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Gmail, Google Inc.'s popular e-mail product, appeared to go dark for users across North America and Europe on Monday.

Google confirmed there was a "service disruption" beginning around 9:30 a.m. Pacific Time but did not specify how many users were affected, or where. About 40 minutes later they updated the alert with an all-clear, and an apology.

"The problem with Google Mail should be resolved. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and continued support, Google said on the Google Apps Dashboard, a website that provides status updates for the company's various Web products. "Please rest assured that system reliability is a top priority at Google, and we are making continuous improvements to make our systems better."

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Firmly entrenched in the consumer market, Gmail is one of Google's most popular and important product offerings. The search giant has been pushing a corporate version of the e-mail service to businesses as part of its Google Apps software suite, which competes with Microsoft Office.

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