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How many zeros make a gazillion?

How many zeros make a gazillion?

“Store gazillions of photos online.” So says the headline on the latest advert from Yahoo!Xtra Bubble.

Cool.

“With a Flickr Pro account you can share your favourite moments and memories … with loads of storage,” it goes on. “It’s the perfect place to keep even your high-res photos …”

Presumably, that would be the “gazillions of photos” worth of storage mentioned earlier. That sounds fantastic. Gazillions. That’s …

Hmmm. Well, I’m not sure. A gazillion? How much is that exactly?

Now I know there’s a million, billion and trillion. Then there are several other named ‘illions’. A little bit of research shows that next on the list is quadrillion, followed by quintillion, sextillion, septillion, octillion, novillion, and decillion, which is 33 zeros.

But no gazillion to be found anywhere.

There are things like novemdecillions (with 60 zeros) and vigintillions (63 zeros). Google’s distant relation googol has 100 zeros and centillion has a whopping 303 zeros (except in the UK, where it has 600 zeros … don’t ask me why, I don’t know).

Still no gazillion.

Boy, the storage being offered must be something really special.

I was intrigued and called Xtra to check.

“We used the fun term gazillion to reflect the creative tenor of the ad,” they say. “How much is a gazillion? Well much more then a squillion and possibly about the same as a bazillion.

“One common definition says these types of numbers are dependent upon the context, but can typically be considered large enough to be unfathomable by the human mind. And that’s a lot of photos.”

So, it would seem that there is no such thing as a gazillion. Like the Tooth Fairy, it’s made-up.

Now, I know that there’s a kind of advertising license around these sorts of things. Something’s so far fetched that you take it with the good humour it’s intended.

Yet, I’m left feeling somewhat perplexed, concerned even, with the use of the word gazillion. We’re already having trouble navigating our way around ‘unlimited’ broadband plans – whatever the term ‘unlimited’ may or may not mean when you read contractual small print about restrictions. What does gazillion mean?

Yes, I know the inference is that there’s a ‘lot’ of storage – and, let’s face it, saying ‘lots’ is not the sort of sexy buzzword advertising gurus are looking for. But how much are we talking? One thousand? Ten thousand? One million? Truth is, no one really knows. There’s mention of a 1GB, which is the equivalent of about 500 hi-res photos … and not quite what I’d call gazillions. However, I’m told that refers to the Online Briefcase feature only.

“The amount of photos that you can store and share in your multiple Flickr Pro albums will easily be in the gazillions,” Xtra says.

That has settled that then.


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