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Google will drop the invite system for signing up to Gmail service as of tomorrow.

Since the launch of Gmail (known as Google Mail in the UK) in April 2004, the service had allowed users to sign up by invitation only. It seems to have quietly opened up the service to all this month, and the decision to drop the invite requirement suggests a renewed confidence in the company's ability to accommodate storage capacity.

Each new Gmail account created offers at least 2.6GB of email storage.

A Google spokesperson told El Reg: "We've decided to drop the invitation-only restriction because it is good for our users. We focus on their needs first and then work back from that."

The email service, which tries to make money by scanning the content of individual communications to provide relevant advertising links to its users, will retain its beta status.

The exact number of Gmail users worldwide is unknown, but is believed to be significantly lower than other free email services such as Hotmail and Yahoo!.

Elsewhere in Google land, a new gadget has been added that allows you to search for film showtimes. It should pinpoint the nearest cinema to your postcode as well as allow you to sort by date of film release and rating.

However, it's not particularly precise at the moment, suggesting one Reg staffer take a 130 mile round trip to load up on popcorn. Google's spokesperson told El Reg: "Like many of our gadgets it's still in beta, allowing our users to experiment with it over time". ®

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