Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Email Tax, Charitable Resistance and Why The Web Wins

Following on From My Previous post about AOL and Yahoo's plans to introduce an Email Tax, I Found a Follow up article on Brand Republic today.

Charities seem to be the first to show their resistance to the plans and have set-up a website with an open letter to AOL expressing their dissatisfaction. AOL appear to have climbed down a bit but it is clear that this issue has a fair few miles in it yet.

My feeling is that if email becomes too expensive for the marketplace then the marketplace will invent something new. After all, neither AOL nor Yahoo invented Pop3 or SMTP, and whilst they have a massive market share of email users, the power of the web lays in its choice and in its Open standards adopted by corporations.

If Yahoo and AOL users don't like paying for sending emails or find that their inboxes dry up because people no longer email them, then an obvious conclusion is to open a Gmail account, and if everyone starts charging for sending emails, then someone will invent a new method to message.

In the pub on Friday we sat down and thought about it and came up with Permission Mail (PMail for short). In that model you have a two tier scheme of people you add who send to you directly and everybody else who is treated with some suspicion, until you say they are ok. Everything would be published as an Open Standard to enable all ISPs to adopt it if they so wished, and so that developers could create clients for it.

This is part of the reason why closing down Napster, Audio Galaxy and a whole host of other file sharing networks hasn't stopped peer to peer file sharing, quite the reverse. If something is taken away that the marketplace wants, then someone just creates a new way of doing it. Internet companies like AOL and Yahoo should have learned that by now and the fact that they haven't definitely moves them towards the 'doesn't get it' corner which is a shame.

I am not under any illusion that PMail will actually come into being as a project led by me, it won't need to, but if the marketplace decides that it needs a cheaper method of communicating than email, then this idea will rapidly form in the minds of several programmers and the problem will be solved.

It's an old adage but once again.. "The Web Wins".

But please remember, you heard it here first folks.

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