It looks like it's almost undoubtedly launched from the present, where Gmail is the world's most popular email service, a little stupid.
It is incredible that you understand that Google launched the service as a beta product on April 1, 2004. For a moment, the whole world was incredible in the idea that the search giant entered the email business and wrote the whole thing as a tech-centric April Fools Day prank. If there doesn't seem to be so much an April Fools Day prank, consider the context at that time. The leading free email provider was Hotmail and a free account came with a small 2 MB free storage space. (Yes, you read it correctly. 2 MB, as in barely more storage space than a 1.44 MB 3.5-inch floppy disk).
The message from Gmail, written in a light language that you would expect from a joke, indicates that free accounts would come with a giant 1GB of storage, a lot of free storage absolutely immense at that time. You can understand how people were more than just a little bit unbelievable that Google suddenly offered an email service with 500 times more storage than the competition. To put it into perspective, it is as if today, some company was competing with Google and offered 7.5 terabytes for storage for its free account.
Everyone prepared quickly and entered exclusive invitation service that offered more space and more functions than the competition was a major focus for a lot of nerds around the world in the coming months. While getting a Gmail account, it's not that much today, then it was a great thing to come in and use your sparse invitations to help your friends with a Gmail account.