Pro may be a tough sell to Internet users accustomed to free software
by Alan Zisman (c) 1996 First published
in Business in Vancouver
, Issue #373 December 17, 1996 High Tech Office
of the first
things that attract people to the Internet is that it seems like
is free. Content is free, even that which you'd normally pay for in
other media (I've been checking out Time Magazine for free
every Tuesday for the past two years).
of how many messages you send, or how far they're going. And, it would
seem, even the software is free.
ethos is deeply
held by many on the Internet, going back to the Net's roots of tying
together academics around the world.
price is right, it can carry unrecognized limitations. Free content
can be worth only what you pay for it, if it means you have no way
of assessing its credibility. Free software may mean limited demos,
or bug-ridden trial applications with no technical support.
And if you
want to produce
a good product, and continually update and support it, it's hard to
do if you're expected to give it away. If you try to sell your product,
you have to go against a prevailing opinion that the Internet, and
all that is associated with it, should be made available free of
Internet mail program. Surveys suggest that over 18 million Internet
users use Eudora to handle their mail--surely a success story by any
vast bulk of
that number are using one of the company's free versions--either the
original Eudora or the more recent Eudora-Light. The company didn't
intend to be an Internet software provider--its main businesses include
CDMA wireless communications, network simulations, and
integrated circuits (ASICs). Eudora was developed more or less as
for Macs only, it was later released in a Windows version. Free
of Eudora are often included in software bundles distributed by
service providers, and for a time, it was included with the popular Netscape
added Internet mail capabilities right into its Navigator Web browser,
while Microsoft included such capability with Win95's Exchange
software (arguably the most awkward software in the Windows 95 package.
Microsoft is now including an easier-to-use Mail program with its
Internet Explorer browser.) So when Qualcomm decided to take Eudora
seriously and produced an added-feature Eudora Pro version for sale,
it not only had to compete with the free products from Netscape and
Microsoft, but with its own free Light version.
there any reason that you should consider paying $79 for Eudora Pro
when you probably already have a free Internet mail program, either
included with your Web browser, or a free version of Eudora itself?
Internet mail programs only have to do a few simple tasks. They need
to connect to a so-called SMTP mail server to send messages, and to
a POP3 server to receive mail. Internet messages must be in simple,
plain text format. More complex binary files, including programs,
graphics and archived files, have to be encoded into a series of small,
text files that, while unreadable to mere humans, appear to be normal
mail messages to the Internet. All of those free mail programs do
a good job with those tasks, and they can even decode binary files
attached to basic mail messages.
(now in a
new version 3.0 for both Mac and Windows 16-bit and 32-bit) includes
added power, useful for people who work with a lot of e-mail. You
can create multiple folders, allowing you to easily categorize and
store your messages. You can create and read mail while off-line.
Sophisticated filters let you automatically sort and even answer your
messages as soon as they arrive.
also be customized
to a high degree. Users can set it to check mail on multiple accounts,
or to have multiple users on a single computer. There are stationery
templates for anything from virtual letterhead to full-fledged,
responses. There's a built-in spell checker and (finally) a
address book. Unlike Netscape's free program, it won't let you view
Web pages as e-mail, but you can format text with bold, italic,
and more, and, to my surprise, the formatting appears even if your
addressee doesn't use Eudora Pro. Web addresses appear as hot-links,
and automatically load that site in the browser of your choice.
still not sure
whether it's worth switching from a free product to one that will
cost you, Qualcomm allows free downloads of a 30-day trial version