Update: As of 3:45 PM PST it looks like Gmail is back up, at least for some users.
Update 2: Google’s comment on the outage:
Since about 2 p.m. Pacific Time today, many Gmail users have been unable to access their email. We are very sorry for this interruption in service. The issue is being caused by a temporary outage in the contacts system used by Gmail which is preventing Gmail from loading properly. We are starting to roll out a fix now and hope to have the problem resolved as quickly as possible. Even though you may not be able to get to your inbox right now, your mail is safe, including new incoming messages.
We will post an update in the Gmail Help Center (http://mail.google.com/support/ ) when more information is available.
Update 3: Google issues a straightforward apology.
Gmail is having a systemwide outage affecting multiple countries, and a whole bunch of its 100 million users are screaming about it on Twitter. Around 20 million people visit Gmail each day, according to Comscore, and they’re all seeing the same message. The first outages were reported at about 2 pm PST, 44 minutes ago. The Gmail blog is silent on the outage, instead giving readers some useful tips on customizing web clips.
We’re waiting on Google for a comment on the reason for the outage, but I can’t help but suspect that my decision yesterday to abandon MobileMe/.Mac in favor of the super-stable Google apps may have been a factor. Sometimes Google does things just to spite me.
Meanwhile, the productivity of 20 million people worldwide just spiked upward. Thanks to Todd Garland for the creative image.