> Email is the "dumb pipe" version of communication technology, which is why it remains popular.
Email might be a dumb pipe. Gmail is anything but that.
Data mining personal emails is an advertiser's dream. The second I start sending emails to my spouse about purchasing a house, lo and behold Google can show me an ad for homeowner's insurance. Given correct semantic analysis, it's incredibly persuasive and highly targeted advertising.
It's arguably akin to wiretapping or spying on my text messages - and lest we forget, there was a huge class-action lawsuit against Google that argued just that.
> Carriers resist becoming "dumb pipes" because there's no money in it
There's a boatload of money to be made in email, even as a 'dumb pipe', if you're an advertiser targeting ads at people based on the contents of those e-mails.
Further, and this I could easily be wrong about, isn't the whole American telecom industry the complete antithesis to the argument "there's no money to be made as a dumb pipe"? Even if net neutrality is maintained, I don't see anyone realistically arguing that Comcast will become nigh-unprofitable in the near future.
Maybe there's no money to be made as a newcomer onto the scene, and competition can be fierce at the lower tiers, but Gmail is certainly an established player in the e-mail game.
Consider Uber vs taxis - if there were massive entry costs to the cab / private car category, a company like Uber would have trouble raising enough money to get launched. So the existing cabs wouldn't ever experience the competitive pressure from Uber, because it would never enter the market.