Mail wars in India: yeh campaign bandh karke toh dekho

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Of late, webmail brands in India have been slugging it out on TV in India. Money is being pumped into driving saliency and hopefully, traffic to these brands. Indiatimes mail, AOL mail and Rediffmail have all beefed up their TV activity. Frankly, none of these have moved me personally to look beyond my current brand – Gmail. The basic functions on the web – search, mail – have their estasblished leaders. In India, Yahoo, Gmail, Rediffmail and Hotmail lead the pack. All of them promise huge storage, spam blockage, speed and security. What would a new entrant or a struggling competitor do? Ask AOL Mail – they say that ‘there’s a little bit of me in AOL’ and that’s why I should choose them. How lame can you get? Let’s look at some of the players:

Indiatimes: coming from the Times Group who in my opinion are prone to gimmicks and hype to promote their own brands, I would not touch this with a barge pole…not even a yellow barge pole. They promise ‘more than mail’ through shopping, games etc. But apart from leaving me with a jaundiced eye they haven’t done much. And being Mac-unfriendly in terms of design does not help.

Rediffmail: they started the size wars (remember the ‘mine is big’ ad which was refused to be carried by Sun TV?), then they explored stuff like check your mail even when on holiday, speed (I think) and now they have resorted to emotion. Heh? An email can change the world? Sure it can. Let me just read the 15 forwarded mails that I received, includng earth-shattering stuff like ‘Fwd: Tomato Story’, ‘Fwd: He is bound to obey you, check this out’ and ‘Fwd:Now, that’s a game of football’ and I will revert.

AOL Mail: the last time I checked my AOL mail, I was having a veggie club sandwich. I choked with laughter thinking about the TVC and now there’s a little bit of me and my veg sandwich on AOL Mail.

Globally, apart from the biggies like Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail the rest (Lycos?) have fallen by the wayside. Gmail was the only late entrant who managed to become mainstream thanks to an innovative product (at that time). Stop chasing the mail wagon. Unless you have something revolutionary (Indian language support – is it alredy there?), don’t bother getting me to switch. My Inbox is full.


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