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New e-mail service set to wallop Gmail

Israeli web portal provider Walla Communications has launched WallaMail, a new service offering users tools such as in-box search, an e-mail filtering system, an antivirus application. It also offers enough space to archive 40,000 e-mails, 2,000 pictures and 50 one-minute video clips, the company said.

WallaMail is just the latest entrant into the e-mail storage space race, which was kicked off by Google's announcement earlier this year that it was planning a free 1G-byte e-mail service dubbed Gmail. It's introduction was followed by announcements from other providers, such as Yahoo, that they were raising the limits of their free web-based services.

Lycos Europe also joined the race, rolling out its own 1G-byte e-mail service.

Walla has been offering a free e-mail service for three years and the company has moved users of that service to the new WallaMail, said Erez Philosoph, deputy chief executive officer of Walla Communications.

Walla's 1 million e-mail users, primarily located in Israel, have been bumped up from 6Mbytes of storage to 1Gbyte, he said.

"We were thinking about raising its the storage limit to 100Mbytes before Gmail and we heard about their service we said we can do that," Philosoph said.

WallaMail is currently signing up users at www.walla.com, offering the ability to attach a variety of multimedia files to e-mail, a range of backgrounds, icons and emoticons and continuous account availability, even if a user has been inactive for months, it said.

Gmail, on the other hand, is still in beta with no firm launch date set. While Gmail's ability to let users search through their mail is considered a big draw for some, WallaMail also offers message search, although it was unclear how its proprietary search technology weighed against that of the search leader.

WallaMail's big play against Gmail is its entertainment features, however, such as the users' ability to watch video clips in their in-boxes, and attach a digital image to a message to add personal style, Philosoph said.

Scarlet Pruitt writes for IDG News Service


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