These days, it’s a given that the latest web service you sign up for is going to be using email for something. The better services make these messages interactive — when someone leaves a message on your Facebook Wall, you don’t have to head back to Facebook.com to respond; you can just reply to that email message. Unfortunately, from a development standpoint, this is a bit easier said than done.
Mailgun is a new service launching today that wants to make this kind of functionality easy to implement: it offers a ‘Mailbox API’ that lets you bake Email functionality into your application. The service is now open to the public, and the first 50 people to sign up for a paid account and use the signup code ‘TCRUNCH’ will be entered into a drawing for a new Macbook Air.
So what exactly is Mailgun for? Well, it’s certainly possible to use Mailgun to send notifications, newsletters, or whatever other content you want to distribute on a broad scale — but there are already other services that can perform these tasks. Mailgun differentiates itself with features that extend beyond just sending messages.
The most obvious usecases are for the interactive Email notifications described above. Beyond these notifications, CEO Ev Kontsevoy gave me a few examples illustrating how a developer might put Mailgun to work.
As with other API-based services, Mailgun’s success will really come down to demand — how many developers are looking to outsource these tasks, and how many are willing to pay for it? Given how ubiquitous email is, I think Mailgun has a fighting chance, provided their service proves to be reliable (and saves developers as much time as they say it will).
Mailgun provides a web service for integrating email inboxes into apps. Just as Twilio enables developers to build voice and SMS into their apps, Mailgun enables developers to tightly integrate email into their apps, i.e. give real email mailboxes to their users, their web pages or any objects in their apps. Such tight email integration enables functionality like private user mailboxes, photo uploads from cell phones, email-driven comments, discussion groups and more.