A Google Account can be associated with any email address. We also require that it is "verified", meaning that we send the address an email, and the person needs to click on a URL in there to say "yup. received it." A plain old Google Account is needed for entering issues or commenting on them; this is to ensure that the Owners/Members of a project can contact that person later.
To be a project Owner or Member, we strengthen it to say a Gmail account. As a start, it means that I can be referred to as "gstein" rather than a full email address. Real Soon, we'll be providing alternate handles so that I don't have to expose my gmail inbox. You can see these alternates in use on Picasa Web Albums.
In the future, we can also use the Gmail accounts to tie in with other Google services to enhance the entire project hosting service.
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