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Email services due for a shake-up

01 Sep 2010

Businesses should be able to shop around more before long to get the best deal in online email services, according to a new report from Forrester Research.

Forrester principal analyst Ted Schadler says the features, systems and pricing of the major cloud email providers are “rapidly approaching parity”, giving businesses the opportunity to assess whether they’re getting the best service for their money.

“Google jumped into the enterprise email market in 2007 with a [$US50] annual subscription to its cloud email service and turned the market upside down,” Schadler says. “Microsoft quickly re-evaluated and repriced its Exchange Online offering to $5 per user per month; IBM launched LotusLive Notes and iNotes for $5 and $3, respectively; and Cisco purchased PostPath and opened its WebEx Mail offering with a 5GB mailbox for $5 per user per month. Each of these big four collaboration vendors has since beefed up and clarified its road map for cloud email and collaboration services.”

Google and Microsoft are the frontrunners, he says, and are likely to stay that way for a while yet. However, the next five years will see a volatile marketplace, with customers reassessing their providers and the providers reevaluating their position.

Schadler believes Cisco, as the newcomer, will be keen to build a customer base in the SME sector.

He says email is ripe for reinvention, having been made to look a little staid by social networking. An integrated form of ‘tweeting’ is one possible innovation, along with in-message widgets, team wikis and collaboration features.