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The Bottomless Inbox?

This week Yahoo! announced it will begin removing the "you've reached your limit" signs with its Web-based e-mail service. That's right –- they're promising to turn your e-mail account into a bottomless pit of stored photos, videos, messages, and spam. Yahoo! says it'll roll out the delete-free service over the course of a few months starting in May. Every user won't see it the same day.

Yahoo! says it's making the decision to mark the 10-year anniversary of its e-mail service. Yahoo! Mail was launched in 1997 with 4 MB of storage. I know, right? The entire contents of a computer from 1997 could be stored on one of today's iPods. The developer of RocketMail, which eventually became Yahoo! Mail, David Nakayama, said in a press release: "Our total capacity for mail accounts back then was 200 GB for all of our customers. At Yahoo!, we're now receiving more inbound mail than that every 10 minutes."

Full disclosure: I have a Yahoo! account from years ago (I may have started it in 1997), and I also use Gmail. My Yahoo! account says I'm currently using 0% of my 1GB of storage space. At Gmail, I'm using 14% of my 2.76 GB. Granted, I use my Gmail account more often but I'm not foreseeing a date when I fill it up. (OK, maybe October 24, 2010.) And I've jammed it full of photos, documents, forwarded messages, etc., and true to Google's trash can tag line, "Who needs to delete when you have over 2000 MB of storage?!", I'm usually just flushing spam message because, well, because I like to keep a tidy operation. More than likely, when I do approach that 2.76 GB number Google will announce its own unlimited service (if not sooner given Yahoo!'s move).

Here's what one of Gmail's primary PR people, Jason Friedenfelds, wrote me in response to the Yahoo! announcement: "Increasing storage is certainly good news for e-mail users, as we found when we launched Gmail and began the push to make seemingly bottomless e-mail storage standard practice. Of course, as your inbox and archives get bigger, you need smart ways to stay organized and efficient. Gmail users love that it's easy to navigate through their mail. We continue to focus on keeping Gmail blazing fast, inboxes spam-free, conversations neatly threaded together, and any message or chat easy to find through our embedded Google search technology." So, no mention of Google eliminating that bottom just yet.

This is my problem, and my solution: While I never have trouble filling up my Web-based e-mail accounts, my work account is another story. I routinely get hand-slapping messages from our automated system administrator telling me to remove content before I can send or receive again. (By the way, that drives me #@$*@!!!) So, here's my modest proposal. Hey, Yahoo! and Google, oh, and Microsoft and whoever else, find a way to partner your bottomless and seemingly bottomless accounts with my finicky work e-mail and ensure I never have to delete again. Is that too much for a lazy e-mailer to ask?

On a slightly more serious note, does anyone actually see bottomless e-mail as a selling point anymore? Or is it more about the features? Or perhaps the "cache" of a particular domain name? Write on, we won't delete.