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Help validating my idea...

Hi

Here I am again, with one of my "great" ideas trying to get some valuable input ;)

An online service that provides unified access to the major web mail services.

Basically I'm trying to exploit the fact that many people have more than one email account with yahoo/gmail/msn or some other service. I know that several services allow you to forward messages to a secondary account, some others allow you to connect to their pop servers. However I feel like this solutions fall short for the average Joe's needs. Not many know how to setup their outlook/Thunderbird to connect to the pop server and not many know how to set up forwarding to a secondary account.

So the idea is basically to provide the average Joe with an easy way of unifying all of its web mail accounts into one interface.

I did some research ( basically googled for it ;) ) and didn't find anything like that, if anyone knows of a similar service please let me know.

Any input/comments is highly appreciated...

Thanks in advance...
dmitriy ryajov Send private email
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
 
 
Well... I think it's a tough sell to the 'average Joe'.  I can't think of how you would do what you're proposing without asking for a user's authentication information for multiple email addresses. A lot of private information is stored behind that authentication information. Would you want one entity to keep track of it for you? I certainly wouldn't.

Short of the major web mail services banding together and building some platform for a service like yours to tie into multiple email accounts across multiple venders... which I don't think would ever happen, it isn't really in their interest to do something like that, I don't see how it's feasible without major security headaches.
Robert Ringham Send private email
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
 
 
A few issues:

-Email contains sensitive info. People might be unwilling to give an unknown service provider (i.e. you) access.
-A change to the API of any of these services could break your service.
-It is hard (if not impossible) to make any money off aggregating free services. If they aren't paying for their email they almost certainly won't pay for your service. And you need huge volumes of visitors to make any sort of money off Google Adsense.

Maybe the the above are the reasons why nobody has done it?
Andy Brice Send private email
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
 
 
Well, regarding security... many online services already ask for your email password - facebook does to import your contacts as well as linkedin, pretty sure that many others are doing it too.

However, I don't see a need to store any information besides the email address, the password would be asked each time the user logs in or optionally a key manager extension/plugin can be offered to be installed on the browser to allow login in to several accounts at once, all passwords would be stored on the users machine....
dmitriy ryajov Send private email
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
 
 
>Well, regarding security... many online services already ask for your email password - facebook does to import your contacts as well as linkedin, pretty sure that many others are doing it too.

A lot of people have heard of facebook and linkedin.

Obviously they had to overcome this issue when they started out - so it isn't a showstopper, but it is an issue.

>However, I don't see a need to store any information besides the email address, the password would be asked each time the user logs in or optionally a key manager extension/plugin can be offered to be installed on the browser to allow login in to several accounts at once, all passwords would be stored on the users machine....

The 'average joe' won't understand the difference.
Andy Brice Send private email
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
 
 
Thanks Andy, valid points...

I doubt that they would be making drastic changes to their api without giving enough time for their api users to "upgrade" to the new version, after all they exposed it in hopes that it would be used...

Sadly I haven't thought of how to make money out of it yet :( - any ideas?

Thanks.
dmitriy ryajov Send private email
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
 
 
Netvibes (http://www.netvibes.com) and other web portals, have the power to have several widgets with gmail, hotmail, etc.
edddy Send private email
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
 
 
I think with mail forwarding, that kinda takes out the multiple email account problem to me. But you are on to one thing....the really really bad problems with email today. Its pretty much a conduit for viruses, spam, and cyper-criminals these days, not to mention management of messages and information locked in the mail itself which isnt managed well.

My feeling is that we need, long term, a better "mail/messaging" system. I think we will always have email, but Im betting there is a next generation messaging system coming someday. The key is getting away from the email protocols first of all, and second the relay mail system. If you could come up with something new that is spam-free, secure, and bypasses that system, you might have a gold mine. I think thats where the big money (and risk) is. Ive been woprking on a solution myself. Of course, trying to get people to use it is another story.
Website Photo Gallery Guy Send private email
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
 
 
The average joe probably only has one email address.  They may have old ones but will probably just discard them.

Building something on top of yahoo, gmail and hotmail sounds to me as an awful business plan.  None of those services make any money for their owners, and you'd be relying on three or more disparate email providers not to yank your business from under your feet if they got bored with you.  They could shut you down overnight, even if you did get to be successful.

I think you're trying too hard to come up with a cool idea instead of looking around trying to find something that people will actually pay for.  The cool ideas aren't usually ones that people will pay for, because they're cool enough that people do them for free, or not that useful enough that anyone will pay.

You must know some business that has a problem that needs to be solved.  Or some technology that can be adapted from one industry to another.  Or someone who has let their product stagnate and is ripe for good competition and a fresh approach, in and industry with do-able switching costs.  Look around you : which companies have the big buildings? (lots of money)  Which companies are hiring staff? (growing business) What can you sell them that will help them be more profitable?
Bruce Chapman Send private email
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
 
 
I'm very familiar with this issue.
The reason that no one has solved this problem is that it can't really be solved currently for the average joe.

To solve this problem, you need to have access, preferably imap to each of these services. Gmail and AOL do spI heard that hotnmail , I don't think hotmail does, and Yahoo doesn't in the US, but does in other countries. Oh, and in gmail, you need to enable imap support.

If you get the above solved, the rest is pretty easy. Get a copy of Zimbra, massage it a bit and you have a solution. Zimbra supports multiple imap mailboxes and is open source.

It's not trivial to setup though, from what I heard.
Dror Send private email
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
 
 

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