Digital Mail wants to bring e-mail to the masses - whether they have a computer or not.
Early next year, the company will launch a range of services under the title 'Email for Everyone', including free web-based e-mail and low-cost e-mail forwarding to mobile and land phones, fax machines and via conventional post.
?Despite the hype, less than one per cent of the population have email - this is a service for the other 99 per cent,? said Digital Mail MD, Robert Darwin.
?You shouldn?t have to be a technical expert to communicate.?
'Email for Everyone' is an expansion of Digital Mail?s DigiClub, a web-based e-mail, groupware and forum service, which he, claims, will connect e-mail to the most ubiquitous communication devices - phones, faxes and surface mail - for nominal costs.
Owners of mobile phones with SMS (short message servive) already have access to text messages, and Digital Mail intends to use this to provide email delivery to mobiles at 10 pence per message plus the cost to the user of accessing SMS.
E-mail to fax will be charged at 10 pence per minute plus the out-going call costs. E-mail to land-based voice mail could be run on a premium-rate line, and e-mail to surface post will be pitched at below #1 per item, said Darwin.
He even envisages setting up a Digital Mail debit card, similar to phone cards, through which payment can be made.
But e-mail to e-mail forwarding will be free and Digital Mail will receive its revenue through online advertising.
?People have been talking about micropayments for years, but the best way to collect micropayments is to flash an ad in front of someone,? said Darwin.
The services will be rolled out from January 1998 onwards. The hurdle Digital Mail now faces is convincing the other 99 per cent that they need its services.
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