Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Microblog: Another Email Client - Why?

A new company called Postbox has announced - wait for it - a new email desktop client. It seems that a few Mozilla engineers, including Scott MacGregor, one of two original engineers of Thunderbird before it got killed and moved into the Mozilla Messaging unit, think they have come up with a better mousetrap.

The interesting thing about this tool is that it was built using Mozilla's Gecko browser engine, and it's based on Thunderbird. Now, I don't personally know Mr. MacGregor, nor do I know of his reasons for leaving Mozilla and striking off on his own - but I'm just not seeing a huge need for yet another desktop email client. Especially one built on the same technology as a perfectly serviceable (and free) open source version.

There's no mention on the site whether this thing will be free, or open source or charged for or what. It's expected to come out "in the spring" - and will eventually be available for Mac and Linux - although the beta is a Windows-only affair at the moment.

Although it looks like it has some pretty cool features - it's not a totally new paradigm in using email. I would call the features helpful, useful, and who doesn't like faster searches of thousands of emails? But, in the end is it just a derivative work with some better graphics?

Ok, so I'm a BIT on the cynical side - so I decided to do a little digging. I thought - hey, some smart guys launching a new product into a utility section of software, in a recession, must have a pretty great business model - or some kind of edge that will help them succeed.

Or, not - as this quote from ComputerWorld's Gregg Keizer piece points out:
Although the e-mailer is based on Mozilla's open-source code, MacGregor wasn't willing to say that Postbox itself would also be open source. "It's too early for us to know right now," he said, adding that the self-funded company is still trying to decide on a business model. "We're going to use the beta to flesh that out," MacGregor said.
Call me a crazy old fool - but it seems to me that if you're going to be self-funded, and start a new company, in a recession, that it might be (just MAYBE) a good idea to have a business model BEFORE starting out. I don't know from that statement whether they don't know if the thing is a good idea or not themselves.

If you're going to "flesh out" how you make money after you've already spend your time and money getting software to the public beta stage... well, good luck to ya'!

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