Sign up here for a free Laszlo Mail account.
I remember the first time I heard of Hotmail. About fifteen years ago a friend of mine mentioned something about her “hotmail account”. This person was known to have a bemused, anthropological, Alfred Kinsey-like interest in social conventions related to sex and sexuality– I remember her photos from the “Museum of Sex” in Amsterdam–so when she mentioned “hotmail” I assumed it was some kind of vaguely kinky service that she used for that part of her life.
In the years since then, web mail has become ubiquitous. Everybody has a hotmail account or a yahoo mail account, or, recently, a gmail account. (I have a yahoo account that I use for this-and-that; my wife lives by her Hotmail account.) Is there a person on earth who doesn’t have a webmail account, or several of them? So why is Laszlo Systems, my employer, introducing Laszlo Mail today? Aren’t we a little late to the party?
The answer to that question, presumably, is that “Laszlo Mail is better”.
If you’re like me, you use your web mail account as a backup. My main mail accounts are at wetmachine.com; I usually use the Apple Macintosh mail client to read them (as well as my mail at Laszlosystems.com). However, if I happen to find myself someplace where I have access to the Internet and I don’t happen to have my Mac with me, I can check my wetmachine mail using the mail client provided by the ISP that hosts wetmachine, I can use Outlook Express to check my Laszlosystems mail, and of course I can read my Yahoo mail the usual way. What these web mal clients have in common is that, relative to the Mac mail client, they suck. Of course, it’s great that I can check my mail from anywhere. That truly is a revolutionary capability, when you think about it. But the user experience — composing, previewing, spellcheckng, managing folders– sucks.
Laszlo Mail does not suck. I’m considering switching to it as my default mail reader on my Mac. Go get yourself an account and see what you think.
Also, and this is the cool part, Laszlo Mail is built using OpenLaszlo, a free, open source platform for making rich internet applications.
Hey, that looks great, and mazel tov on the Earthlink deal. (As my grandma used to say, “Wear it well and tear it well!”) Lzo’s Digital Life suite looks cool, too. You’ve demonstrated that there’s no good reason why all platforms (e.g., Windows and Linux) can’t have utility and design comparable to a Mac. Plus the apps can all be controlled and maintained and backed up on the server, if you’re in to that sort of thing. (Paul Graham makes a terrific case for that sort of thing at http://store.yahoo.com/paul…)
On the flip side, I’m not clear on why one wouldn’t use the Mac client directly, with an IMAP server instead of POP. That is, why does anyone need Web mail (regardless of how good the client is)?
The whole digital life thing does present an opportunity. Individual mail and chat and sharing clients don’t stand out from one another much. There’s room for something that truly does something no one else can do (e.g., Chandler at http://wiki.osafoundation.o…). But Inventing the Future is hard: it’s tough to derive value from having huge numbers of people using the same interconnected tool even as you’re busy creating and recreating the tool. Who wants to deal with reinstalling and patching their productivity tools all the time? (That would be like using, I don’t know, Windows or something.) This is where server-side software comes in, and hence the opportunity for Laszlo. Knock ’em dead, Johnny!
I have a mac and although I have a laszlomail account, I have not really used it.
HOwever, a few months ago my mac was in the shop (for a month!!!!) and I was using webmail clients to read my laszlo, wetmachine, yahoo mail. All the clients sucked. It was no fun.
The big payoff, as you say, will come from the integrated “digital life” suite starts to come online over the next year or two.
It’s exciting at Laszlo these days. (It would have been interesting if Curl had figured out to give away the platform and sell apps, but that’s water under the bridge. And besides, if you were still at Curl you wouldn’t be at Croquet, which is exactly where you were destined to be as far as I can tell.)
I love your grandmother’s expresssion, by the way.