When Google introduced its Gmail webmail service in 2004 its impact on competitors like Hotmail and Yahoo was immediate. The-then-1GB offering forced others to rethink their business plans completely.

Given the massive amount of storage offered free then, few people could have foreseen the company's latest move to offer up to 250GB of online storage for use across a range of Google offerings.

Pay per byte

The announcement of a new pricing structure is likely to appeal most to users of Gmail and the Picasa online photo-album service. The former currently offers 2.8GB for free, while the latter stands at 1GB.

Upon reaching their quotas, users can now pay for more Google storage by the year and use it as they see fit. The cheapest option is 6GB for $20 (£10) a year, while the most expensive and largest is 250GB for $500 (£250) annually.