Another year, another batch of email companies

I’ve written a bunch in the past about email innovation and what’s coming (or needs to come) next.  Problems and opportunities around email have received a lot of attention over the past year, and along with that attention has come a new crop of startups with their own take on things.  Here are a few that have recently been announced:

Gist "[connects] your inbox to the web" allowing you to "get business-critical information about key people and companies."  They sound like a more ambitious version of Xobni – both companies pull together email and other information about each of your contacts.  If Gist is successful in combining email search with web search to provide one-stop shopping for information on people and companies, it will prove to be a very useful tool.

OtherInbox is "a free email account that automatically organizes newsletters, social
networking updates, coupons and receipts from online purchases."  We’ve focused on this area a bit with ClearContext Notification Managers with a focus on "bacn" type email.  What OtherInbox really reminds me of, though, is a very focused implementation of whitelist and challenge/response systems like Boxbe and BlueBottle.  However, by focusing on one very narrow problem area, OtherInbox is able to use a very simple organizational approach. Their big challenge is obvious – getting people to sign up for yet another email account when most people have at least one webmail account in addition to a work account, while webmail providers continue to improve their spam/bacn management capabilities.

PostBox is trying something very ambitious – a whole new email client.  I’m sure PostBox has a lot more planned, but right now it seems a little underwhelming from the preview screenshots and descriptions.  Not a whole lot we haven’t seen already from existing clients and plugins.  A key feature of theirs is an attachment viewer that looks similar to what Xoopit does for GMail and we do in the ClearContext Attachment Explorer.  They also talk about web integration and organization around topics, things that Zenbe is trying to tackle with a new webmail platform.

So, a lot of evolutionary here, and not so much revolutionary.  Of this new batch of companies, I’m probably most interested in seeing what Gist does.  If they can succesfully create an automated filtrbox type service driven from my email, it’s definitely something that will be quite useful to me.

For discussion on more revolutionary approaches, come join us at the Fixing Foundational Information Channels session at Defrag (code dh1 gets you a reg discount btw).  And check out ClearContext later this week for our own take on where email is headed!

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