So, Gmail is to open up to all users worldwide bringing to an end one of the great viral marketing campaigns of recent times.

When Gmail’s email service was first launched, it was invite only and I can remember the scramble among the early adopters to track down others with an account. Accounts were offered in the comments of blog posts, desperate people even bid for them on eBay.

All the while, the buzz about Gmail grew turning something that for most is a relatively dull part of their digital lives – email – into something to talk and even brag about.

Few realised at the time that they were witnessing one of the great pieces of viral marketing.

No doubt the release strategy also helped Google rollout their product gradually, as they went about improving the storage and adding fuctionality, benefiting from the goodwill of their ‘privileged’ group of users.

Having secured one of the early Gmail accounts, I gleefully gave out my Gmail invites to digitally ‘under-endowed’ friends, but stubbornly hung onto my Hotmail account hoping the extra storage would come and the interface would improve (they largely have). I have to access my Gmail account from time to time as part of accessing certain Google services, but am still not a full convert.

When it comes to email, some old habits die hard, no matter how good the viral.