FRAMINGHAM (02/18/2000) - Market Bulks UpThe market for bulk e-mail is massive and promises to get even bigger.
Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. estimates that today's roughly 3 billion commercial e-mail messages will shoot to more than 250 billion in two years. Studies conducted by Aberdeen Group Inc. and Jupiter Communications Inc. clearly point to e-mail as the most cost-effective way to maintain a relationship with a customer.
Rolling Your Own
Homegrown mass e-mailing systems such as the one developed by Stockpoint are BoldFish's biggest competition, according to acting CEO Barbara Tallent. Often, the systems are a combination of custom development and existing public domain or open-source tools. Many custom implementations, however, concentrate on the sending portion of the equation and don't always automate the handling of returned mail, one of BoldFish's strengths.
Lyris Technologies Inc. in Berkeley, Calif., offers an e-mailing list processor system that includes many of the bulk e-mailing features of BoldFish, although it's geared mostly toward shipping messages out, not handling them automatically when they're returned unread.
BoldFish may see keener competition from e-mail services themselves. Companies such as Digital Impact Inc., MessageMedia Inc. and Software.com Inc. have already made serious inroads into the bulk messaging business.
BoldFish can't match the hands-off nature of these outsourcers, but it can easily compete on price, says Tallent. Typical bulk e-mailing costs range from .25 to .75 cents per message, according to research conducted by Computerworld.
BoldFish's one-time charges compare favorably, say analysts.
BroadVision Inc., Vignette Corp., E.piphany Inc. and Broadbase Software Inc. all automate information delivery to some extent, and many companies are investigating bulk e-mailing tools as add-ons to their existing products. Most have a broad base of existing customers who could easily slip the new features into the corporate infrastructure, say analysts. BoldFish is readying cross-licensing agreements to forestall the competitive threat, says Tallent.