I was replying to a thread on Flutterby and about to mention how we here at The Company are this close to just shutting email off and telling customers that they can use Gmail when this weird thought just crossed my mind: Google has an insentive to spam, in order to take over everyone's email!
Now hold on!
Hear me out.
Google started archiving USENET and eventually offered an interface to it. Now, I can tell you that from an ISP point-of-view, USENET sucked. You needed gigs of space, and the server software that supported NNTP was not only a bitch to setup (much like UUCP) but also a bitch to maintain and keep running (it wasn't unusual for the server to collapse under the load of USENET, which meant finding and nuking whole portions of USENET to free up some space) and the users always bitched about how we didn't carry
alt.fan.furry.disenchanted.vixen.sex.sex.sex and could we please increase the queue time for
alt.sex.pictures.erotica and not delete the group every six hours, even though it could consume 75% of the disk space in six hours?
And now we get to email.
Google is in a position to take over email much like it's taken over USENET. Take on the hassles (and they have the infrastructure to handle it) and slap on a decent interface (although the Gmail interface is way better than the USENET interface by far), and using the indexing and searching capabilities from the web search engine stuff, and you have a pretty compelling email engine and probably does a killer job on spam (I'm guessing—not using Gmail I can't say one way or the other).
Sure, there are companies now specializing in email (like AuthSMTP and SMTP.com) but for free email access? It's probably Google) but really, Google can make a ton of money on email, if only by selling targetted advertising on email (and hopefully, it's better than it's AdSense program) and until that point, Google can probably make a ton of money by spamming (I'm not saying Google is spamming, but that they have a nice insentive to spam).
Okay, wierd thoughs are over—back to fighting spam.