Another friend (yes I have more than one friend) asked me this question today.
If you were to pick an email for the rest of your life would it be a gmail account? It’s popular now, and the company looks like it will be here for a while, but at one point everyone had @aol.com and then everyone had @yahoo.com.
My response to him was that it’s hard to say what will be around forever. Regarding Google and Gmail, I don’t think there’s a better option, unless you were to purchase your own domain. The biggest downside to having your own domain is that you’re paying for your email. To me, Google seems like the best bet right now if you want free email.