It doesn't seem that many people have noticed, but Google has opened up their Gmail accounts so you can get one without an invite, IF you have a US mobile phone number, they'll send you an invite code via a text message. They're doing this ostensibly as a way to protect against invalid spammer accounts. However, if you check out the faq, you'll find this:
What will Google do with my mobile phone number?
We will use your phone number to send an invitation code in a text message to your phone. In doing so, we store each phone number to make sure it is used to create no more than 10 accounts.
Interesting. They also claim to be working hard to support other countries (in case you were wondering). I think this is a very neat move by the Goog to harvest mobile phone numbers for future services. Too bad they didn't think of this when they first launched GMail, they'd have every phone number in the country by now.
Lots more thoughts in my head about what's going on up there, but those are for internal emails. :-)