Google's much-publicised decision to offer free Web e-mail accounts with an incredible 1GB of storage appears to have inspired little-known Mac Web-hosting company Spymac to do the same. Inspired to chase the headlines anyway.

One gigabyte of storage will be available to all Spymac mail accounts, effective from yesterday 5 April. "We agree with the staff at Google, an increase in e-mail storage to one gigabyte makes sense. We already have the infrastructure in place, so we can launch the first version of the expanded service today," said Kevin April, co-founder of Spymac.

Although why it only occurred to the company to make its e-mail accounts 41 times bigger than the previous 25MB limit once Google had unveiled its giant-killer Gmail is anyone's guess.

Spymac is one of the largest online Macintosh user groups with 47,000 customers, and says it will not show ads to users when they retrieve their mail - as appears to be Google's business plan. Instead, it hopes the extra money put into memory and storage will be matched by additional Spymac products and services including auctions, Spymac-branded accessories and products and website hosting of web sites.

Spymac only started up this year and also offers - for free - 250MB image space and 100MB Web space.

The site runs on Spymac 3, an internally developed software platform. The Spymac Hosting servers are located in Düsseldorf, Germany in a secure Suntone-Certified facility. Redundancy is built into Spymac's server cluster, allowing for fast, reliable services with virtually no down time, the company said.

Google has certainly struck the Yahoo! and Hotmail e-mail business model with a hammer blow by offering a free gigabyte of e-mail storage. Yahoo! users pay $50 for 100MB of e-mail storage. Yahoo! UK e-mail users get 6MB e-mail storage free and can upgrade to 100MB for £39.99 a year. Hotmail offers 100MB for the same price with a 20MB attachment limit.

It could be that the days of such charging for web-hosted e-mail are coming to a close. If Google actually launches its Gmail service - it's currently in test mode - then both Yahoo! and Hotmail will be forced by Google's sheer market presence to follow suit.

Without Google's AdSense technology though, they will be much less able to target on-screen ads to the concerns of e-mail users than Google promises to do.

The action of Spymac meanwhile is a mere pinprick. If other ISPs follow suit though then the Hotmail and Yahoo! e-mail business model could be holed irretrievably.