New York based BlueTie released a very nice hosted Ajax email suite last week. This is a polished product – the company has been in business since 1999 and has hundreds of partners, like ISPs, that already distribute this software to their customers. The new product is a customer-facing email solution, with both a free and premium version.
This is a crowded space, with products from Zimbra, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple, Goowy, Foldera and others (although I am stretching the definition of competitor here to include simple Ajax webmail offerings, and Goowy is a Flash application). But getting control of people’s email account can be a profitable business – BlueTie says that people spend an average of 4.6 hours on email every day, and many people spend far more time than that. More than any other application, email is the center of the work flow in a business.
None of the competing services listed above, except Office Live and Zimbra, currently offer the breadth of services (email, calendar, contacts, instant messaging, file storage) of BlueTie, however, and Zimbra is not a hosted application (you must install it on your server). Foldera will have these features but is yet to launch.
Many individuals and businesses will like the BlueTie offering: It’s free and battletested. The email application worked very well in my testing (and was fast). The company will generate revenue through the premium version and advertising on the free version. The advertising will be built into the product. For example, through a partnership with Orbitz the company will offer travel services.
I am on the board of directors of Foldera, a competitor to BlueTie.