Introducing Freemail. Better than Freemium.

The twitterati, or twatterati as I heard them referred to recently, are noisily testing Buzz, Google’s latest spoiler in the war to dominate our internet attention spans. Charles Arthur in the Guardian describes the underwhelming response from a series of social media gurus, including Robert Scoble. The Telegraph’s Shane Richmond is equally lukewarm.

Looking at the big picture for a minute, the inflection point of culture and technology we are at now is fascinating. The browser wars have been overtaken by the behaviour wars, as the dominance of search as the monetisable business of the internet is being attacked every day by other businesses more interested in monetising the behaviours of connecting with friends. Gmail was originally Google’s response to the reason most people claimed they used the internet (as per Nielsen and Forrester reports as infinitum) – to connect with friends. Or in other words, use email. Facebook may disagree, given the amount of time we spend in social networks. these new tools are great, and make our communication instant, realtime, shareable, and accessible to our friendship communities. Yet email remains, much as we loathe it, the killer app of the internet. The idea of people paying for online newspapers, a current concern of so many media pundits, is quite like asking whether people will people pay for email. Whilst there are millions of ‘freemail’ users out there, the cost of it is subsidised by the monoliths of Google and Microsoft in order to keep eyeballs in their respective worlds. So ponder this. Is email really free? And for how long?

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