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Lycos joins 1Gbyte e-mail space race

Lycos Europe declared itself the victor in the race for e-mail space race yesterday with the introduction of a 1Gbyte service - although this one comes at a price.

Lycos Mail Personal 1GB is ad-free and comes with antispam and antivirus software for £3.49 a month, as well as a domain name so users can have an e-mail addresses such as PedroSanchez@PedroSanchez.com.

The storage capacity of the offering appears to be response to Google's announcement that it would be launching a free e-mail service with 1Gbyte of storage.

last week Yahoo said it would begin offering a service later this year with "virtually unlimited" storage that would rival Gmail's limit, but users of Yahoo's souped-up storage offering have to pay for it.

Both Lycos and Yahoo have said that money is not all that matters - both providers have trumpeted the security and privacy features of their services in an apparent jab at concerns raised over Gmail.

Gmail is based on an advertising model whereby the company scans e-mail messages and place ads that it deems relevant next to them. Although Google has worked to address privacy concerns over the scanning of messages, competitors seem not as eager to let these concerns pass.

"Our product is quite different than Google's ... and we offer no advertising, no spyware and very high privacy," said Alex Kovach, vice president of Lycos Europe.

Kovach added that while there will always be free web-based e-mail offerings, Lycos is serving up "e-mail for life" with premium services boasting a range of features and an address that never has to change.

Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg said Google's Gmail still presents a powerful foe.

"Google is offering Gmail for free and, unless you are bothered by the advertising, that's a deal no one else has matched," Gartenberg said, adding that he did not believe Gmail poses any serious privacy concerns and doubts that its advertising model, which is no more obtrusive than the ads on Google's search service, will deter users.

"What is interesting is that providers are responding to a service that hasn't even been launched yet," Gartenberg said.

While Gartenberg doubted that fee-based e-mail services with extra storage will steal that much of Gmail's market thunder, some users say they want what is available, now.

A web-based e-mail user in the UK said that she would have no qualms about switching to Lycos and paying for the storage.

"It's not as much of a pain to switch e-mail addresses as everyone says," she added.

Paul Day, a Yahoo mail user who lives in Madrid, said that he would also have no problems switching to Lycos' 1Gbyte service rather than waiting for Gmail or Yahoo's "virtually unlimited" offering.

"One of the disadvantages of Yahoo is in sending and receiving those larger files, and missing those important mails when the mail box is packed full," Day said. "1G-byte mail space? I'd switch in a second!"

Lycos is also upgrading the storage capacities for its existing premium e-mail customers. The Lycos Mail Max service will be doubled from 50Mbytes to 100Mbytes, while Lycos Mail Personal will be bumped up to 1Gbyte.

Kovach would not say how many premium mail users Lycos has, commenting that it was still "early days" since the company just started rolling out the services in February.

The Lycos Europe network covers 14 countries including the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia and Spain.

Scarlet Pruitt writes for IDG News Service


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