When Gmail first came out in 2004, one of its big selling points was that it offered two gigabytes of storage space, eclipsing its nearest competitor by a considerable amount.
In his new book, The Plex, Steven Levy recounts a time shortly after Gmail's launch when he spoke to Bill Gates about the service, and Gates was perplexed as to why they offered so much storage space for free:
"How could you need more than a gig?" the Microsoft co-founder asked, according to Levy. "What've you got in there? Movies? Power-Point presentations?"
Gates proceeded to pepper Levy with questions. "How many messages are there?" he asked, Levy recalls. "Seriously, I'm trying to understand whether it's the number of messages or the size of messages." Levy writes, "After doing the math in his head, he came to the conclusion that Google was doing something wrong."
The idea of never deleting email, or not using a desktop client was a foreign concept to Gates, apparently. These days, Gmail offers over seven gigs of free space for each account (1.5 of which I'm currently using), and everyone else is left following their lead. [Huffington Post]