All in all, it's a good product, but all these people talking about how 30mm people are going to switch over to it must be seeing something I don't. My prediction (and I'll happily and publicly acknowledge defeat if I am misreading this) is that they will get a few million new users initially, many for a second or third address as opposed to their primary address, and that many of them won't stick with it to become active users over a longer period of time. After that, they'll grow at the same rate, with the same type of characteristics, as Yahoo, Hotmail, and other webmail providers.
Email and email addresses, unlike search engines, are pretty sticky things.Only Once: Gmail - I Don't Get It
I archive my email locally because I have to -- my mail servers aren't big enough, and my webmail access doesn't include search. If Google offered me Gmail plus access via IMAP, I'd pay for it. Just like I'd love to pay Flickr to handle all my online photo sharing.
I agree that email is very sticky. I'd love to convince everyone that doesn't already have their own domain to get one.
When Gmail becomes widely availably, I'm going to lobby very, very hard to all my friends that currently have Hotmail accounts to switch. I know Hotmail doesn't do forwarding, and it likely doesn't have a vacation message/auto-reply. Can anyone think of a way to forward your Hotmail automatically?