Death Of Another Dotcom Dream



Subject: URGENT: Your Net@ddress free email service is to be discontinued. Learn how to keep your existing address. 

In today’s changing business environment, revenue sources are no longer adequate to support our Net@ddress free email service. The current Net@ddress free email service will be discontinued on July 31, 2001. As a valued customer, we are offering you the opportunity to sign up for our new Net@ddress Messaging Center service for a modest fee. If you sign up by July 31, 2001, you get the introductory rate of $29.99/year. This is a 40 percent savings off our retail price of $49.99/year — so sign up today!

If you choose not to keep your current Net@ddress email address, you need to do nothing; your email account will be cancelled on July 31, 2001, and your email address and messages will be permanently deleted.

This is the message from a company that believed in the great dotcom dream and had promised a free e-mail address for the lifetime. Whose lifetime, skeptics must have asked. And it proved to be the lifetime of the free service itself and not of the user! 

If you are an optimist, there is no need to worry. But if you are a practical person and can peek into the future, then you better start thinking. Even though there are over 1400 free email providers in more than 85 countries, USA.net was one of the major free e-mail providers. 

If you look at it as a test case, and if USA.net can manage to get enough paid subscribers to their messaging center, others are unlikely to sit back and continue giving you free e-mail services. Maintaining and managing the mail servers costs lot of money and the banner advertising on the e-mail sites is not enough to bear these expenses.

After effects of USA.net’s decision

Let’s go back to the commercial implications of the USA.net offer. Rudimentary calculations show that the company will earn $30 million per year for every million subscribers who register within the first month and $50 million for every million subscribers who register later. 

That’s a lot of money compared to the dwindling revenues coming from the banner advertising. Just try to recollect how many times you have clicked on a banner advertisement on your free e-mail program?

Banner advertisements on these sites make the e-mails slow to load. And the longer you wait for the message to open, the more money you are paying unknowingly to your ISP and the telephone company. 

Even if were paying, say an average Rs 200 extra monthly like this, it totals to almost $50 per year. Assuming that a paid e-mail service will work better and faster than a free e-mail service, it’s worth paying for the service.

Free mail sites

If you want to continue with the free e-mail providers, there are many who provide this service including Hotmail, Yahoo!, Address.com, Bizland, TheMail.com, Email.com, Rediffmail.com and so on. Hotmail is one of the oldest, highly popular, and most versatile web-based email services on the Internet today. It’s ease of use and many features make it a very hard company to compete with.

Mail.com is packed with resources, tools, and a huge listing of domains to choose the perfect email address from. There are different extensions that you can choose from, targeted towards occupations such as lawyers, doctors, teachers, and even an accountant. When you send out email, everyone will know what you do.

If you would like to use it as an email address to give out to potential clients but would still like to receive all your email and messages in your POP account, it’s no problem. You can configure it to forward all email to the address of your choice. Or if you are out of town and want to check your POP mail, it allows you to retrieve any email from a number of POP accounts and be able to read and access them via the Web.

Yahoo! has all the standard features, and gives you an e-mail alert message when your Yahoo! Messenger boots by default.

You will find everything you need to know about free e-mail providers at http://www.fepg.net/
(don’t blame me if this site also shuts down its operations by the time you go and visit their site!)

Your own domain name

When we talk about paid e-mail service, there is one more such service available at an affordable cost, but with an attractive built-in feature. The dot com mail from Network Solutions is available for $60 per year. And the biggest advantage here is that with your e-mail address, you can also have your own unique domain name, if it is available. 

The $60 fee includes domain registration charges for one year, which is $35 per year. So, you get a better deal with an e-mail address like mailto:amitabh@karodpati.com instead of an e-mail address like mailto:amitabh_345@usa.net at almost the same price.

Some of you might have already started calculating how much precious foreign exchange we are going to spend on these paid e-mail services. Then take heart. Instead of counting out dollars, you can also use the Indian currency. 

An Indian domain name typically costs Rs 750 per year and an additional Rs 1500 can get you 5 MB server space to hold your mails. If your hosting partner gives a web-based e-mail interface, you can access your e-mail either through a mail client like Outlook Express or through a browser via the Web interface. You can have your own unique e-mail address and give a boost to your image on the Internet!

Ashok Dongre is an advertising and marketing professional, specializing in Internet/Intranet strategies and web site design. You can contact him via e-mail at
dongreashok@yahoo.com 

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