"SA companies beat internet giant to the pinch"

Um, received this rather surreal press release yesterday. Not sure I would have sent this out as a piece of public relations, myself. It’s likely that Google will respond, either with a polite phonecall or a legal letter. Or in all likelihood, they just won’t care. Be interesting to see how it plays out.

After chatting to a Googler here, they pointed out that the same thing is also happening in Germany. Check out: www.gmail.de

It starts:

If you thought the South African internet domain Gmail.co.za was owned by Google, then think again. Owning what could be considered the internet giant’s most valued asset – it’s name, two of South Africa’s homegrown IT companies have beat Google to it by offering SA internet users a locally-focused free email offering.

Webmail International, South Africa’s leading free email service and IT solutions company Gardale Solutions, have combined forces to form a local free email solution on the www.gmail.co.za domain.

Gardale have owned the domain since July 2003, before Google launched its Gmail offering to Google users. Abbreviated from Gardale Mail, the .co.za website has been running its Internet Service Provider (ISP) division for the past five years.

2009 will see the company teaming up with established and well-loved ISP Webmail International which has been running its own local email service for 10 years and that successfully launched the newest version of its website in 2008. The provision of a local free email solution by Gardale Mail was decided on due to numerous requests from users.

This new combined product called Gmail will be launching in Feb 09 and will offer features that compare to the best international offerings of the same:

* 10Gb of storage
* Free VOIP calls between users
* Webtunes and Webradio
* Free fax to email services
* Free SMSes, Video and Voicemail services coupled with social networking and file sharing abilities

and it goes on.

Matthew Buckland: Publisher


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