More On Google, Maps, Mail, and Microsoft

    April 9, 2005

He makes the point that several others did in response to my Hotmail taunt: that the number of users on email systems doesn’t matter to him.

Ahh, wasabi, but you aren’t thinking it through.

Google is a business, right?

How are they going to pay for the costs of keeping your email account up and running? Advertising, right?

Well, here’s a little hint. Advertisers go to where the audience is. Hotmail right now has more than 100 million ACTIVE users. That’s an audience advertisers want to get in front of.

Size of audience matters a LOT to advertisers. Ever hear of TV ratings? Why does Nielsen do that? Because advertisers care.

See, when you provide a free service you’ve gotta start seeing a return on that someday and advertising is the only way I can see how to do that. This is especially true when you’re a public company.

So, you SHOULD care about how many users are on the system you’ve chosen. If there aren’t enough users then the system won’t get invested in.

Also, what happens when email systems combine with P2P systems like Bittorrent? If that ever happens then the number of users on a system actually increases the quality levels. Not saying that’ll happen with email, but certainly will happen with video. I just recorded a 200MB video. There’s no way I could email that to my friends and family. But I could easily send that through Bittorrent or another P2P system.

Also, we already know that Gmail isn’t scalable. Ask Chris Uhlik. He runs the Gmail team. I did at O’Reilly’s Foocamp last year. Ask him why they limit the number of invites you can send out. Chris told me it wasn’t done for marketing reasons, but because they couldn’t keep the quality of service up without limiting the number of users on the system.

Robert Scoble is the founder of the Scobleizer blog. He works as’s Vice President of Media Development.

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