But did you realise that it is still in Beta?
Perhaps it is Google’s modesty that keeps such a wonderful and functional service in perpetual beta (or, dreadful thought, perhaps they will turn it into a paid for subscription service when it comes out of Beta).
Google has lots of services, many of them fabulous. But some of them deserve the ‘beta’ classification more than others. Google Book Search is still very definitely beta. The mooted Google Knol appears to have gone into an invisible beta phase, and I would not be surprised if it stayed there indefinitely. In spite of (and perhaps because of) the hype with which it was launched last year. Google’s Knols were meant to be a challenger to Wikipedia — or an authoritative complement. Wikipedia may have the last laugh on this, its entry on Knols is perhaps more authoritative than Google’s Knol on Wikipedia will ever be. A’knol’ is meant to be a unit of knowledge — Google has many outstanding computer scientists, but it may be leaden when it comes to epistemology.
I think it’s in Beta because it doesn’t stand alone, financially. Until the AdWords at the side definitively cover its costs, it remains an ‘experiment’ in Googlespeak, I think.
I doubt that it can be as simple as that. Gmail is now in a position to stand alone financially with the deals that Google is doing to host gmail for big organisations — eg Arizona State University, or this recent big win for email in Australian schools systems http://campustechnology.com/articles/64758/When such substantial commercial deals are being won, it is odd that Google are happy to dub their service ‘beta’.