The trouble with free…
While Motorola and Nokia vie to take on RIM in the high-dollar enterprise wireless email space, there’s another company eyeballing the mobile e-mail market, but from the bottom. Google has launched a mobile version of its Gmail application along with mobile replicas of its other tools like search and maps.
Compared to the secure and robust enterprise clients RIM, Nokia, Motorola and Microsoft are offering, Gmail Mobile isn’t much--just a simple Java application that accesses a customer’s standard online account. But Google is drawing another analogy to the wired net. Gmail mobile is free. No license, no monthly charge, only data access charges one would normally pay their carrier for wireless Web access.
Free e-mail over the mobile phone is nothing new. Other major Webmail providers like Yahoo have offered up their e-mail on mobile sites for a while, but those have tended to be through bulky browser pages. Anything with the sophistication of a client has fallen into the pay-to-play category. Many carriers already use Oz clients to offer MSN, AOL and Yahoo mail for a premium, and other developers are climbing on board as interest in mobile e-mail is piqued, all under the assumption that there’s money to be made.
Admittedly the Gmail client isn’t the most sophisticated program in the world, but it does set an interesting precedent. Carriers and applications providers see the gobs of money enterprise e-mail is generating today, and they’d love to extend those models to the consumer messaging market. Google may have just pulled the carpet out from under them, determining that consumer mobile e-mail--just like its World Wide Web counterpart--will come gratis.Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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