Google is launching GMail later this year, and the monolithic search engine kings, cash-rich and looking for other revenue streams, seem to be following the Yahoo! road and choosing Email as its next venture.

The difference is, they have no plans to charge UK£50-60 for the optimal 100Mb premium-sized mailbox after giving away a token two to six megabytes, the way Hotmail and Yahoo both operate. On the drawing board at the moment are plans to make the mailboxes up to a gigabyte in size, and also offer the spam filtering and virus scanning functions that its main rivals offer too.

The popup blocker, which is already free with the downloadable Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer will also be made a standard feature as you log in to get your mail. The 1Gb space- if that's what users end up with- equals half a million pages of mail. Although it's hyped as making deletion of email unnecessary, commonsense suggests that just for the sake of sanity or once that job application results in rejection there's no further need to keep it.

The move into email comes shortly after Yahoo brought its searching technology in-house, using new code derived from its acquisition of Inktomi, Alta Vista and Overture, which reduced some of Google's market share and leaving the company needing its next major phase of growth. Price comparison service Kelkoo is another string to be tied to Yahoo's bow in the neverending search engine battle.

Search engines haven't been the same since Google arrived. In a similar way GMail could become the new Hotmail and so far nobody we told about the service before posting this story has had any reservations about either using it as backup for an existing account, or dumping their current mail provider entirely for the lure of all that space. The future of the company, which is planning multibillion-dollar floatation on the stock market, remains to be seen although Google has far from peaked. For now, founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin can continue to laugh at their good fortune of the past six years.