Google Opens Gmail Service to Public

When Google unveiled its instant messaging client yesterday, there was only one problem: Google Talk requires a Gmail account, which has been invitation-only since its beta debut in 2004. This changed on Thursday, however, as Google opened Gmail to anyone in the United States with a mobile phone.

The mobile phone requirement was designed to prevent Gmail accounts from being created by robots and stop spammers from signing up multiple times. Google will send an invitation code via SMS, which can then be used to register with Gmail. Only one account may be created per phone number.

"We're also working on some new mobile features that will make your Google account more useful and secure, such as SMS alerts and password recovery," said Keith Coleman, Gmail Product Manager.

"When you sign up using your mobile phone, you can choose to save your number with your account so you can use these features as soon as they become available."

At the moment, Gmail only works with U.S. phone numbers, but Google plans to extend support internationally in the near future. Gmail, which offers 2.5 gigabytes of e-mail storage space, is already available in 29 languages.

Google Talk natively integrates with Gmail, automatically populating the friend's list with e-mail contacts and directly enabling the composition of e-mail from the IM client. Logins for the Jabber-based Google Talk network are also utilize Gmail addresses.

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