Business Case for Global Hybrid Mail
Dr. Ben Livson
© Copyright: BAL Consulting P/L 1998. All rights reserved. Classified.
Version 10, 8 April, 1999
Table of Contents
1. Executive Summary *
Global Messaging vis Postal Services Statistics *
2. Business Concept and Value Proposition to Customers *
2.2 Value Proposition to Customers *
5. Technology Outline of the Product-Service – how does it work? *
5.2 Distributed Nodes *
5.3 Description of Authentication *
5.4 Billing and Customer Care *
5.5 SMTP Handler Billing Functions *
6.2 Product service bundles, pricing and revenue, and costs *
6.3 Critical Success Factors CSFs *
6.4 Risks and Responses *
8. Financial Plan - Pricing, Revenue and Cost *
9. Industry Literature *
10. Profile on Potential Business Partners *
10.2 What does it take to make it? *
10.3 United Parcel Service - UPS *
10.4 Federal Express Corp. *
10.5 DHL Worldwide Express *
11.2 Netscape-Sweden Post-Sun *
11.3 E-Snailâ *
11.4 AT&T Mail *
11.5 International Data Post Hybrid Mail ePOST *
11.5.1 IDP PC ePOST *
11.5.2 Further development will be needed *
11.6 Partial Net Postage Metering Solutions - E-Stamp and StampMaster *
11.7 Internet Print Protocol *
11.8 Hybrid Mail Advertising Revenues *
11.9 Tumbleweed POSTA and UPS OnLine® Dossier and UPS OnLine® Courier *
11.10 ELetter http://www.eletter.com *
13 Where to from here? *
14 Links to Hybrid Messaging Sites *
Global Messaging vis Postal Services Statistics
Email is becoming a major business communications rapidly substituting postal services as highlighted by recent email vis postal services global statistics:
"Business Week reports a Forrester prediction that annual message volume will balloon to 12 billion messages in 2001 … six times today's e-mail traffic. E-mail is the most common online activity. According to a recent survey by IntelliQuest, 75% of the respondents used e-mail; 41% reported using e-mail daily, while another 27% used it weekly. Computer Industry Almanac predicts that the number of people with e-mail access worldwide will grow 800% to 450 million over the next three years, up from 60 million in 1997. "
"Between 1998 and 2001, the number of e-mail users is projected to increase from 120 million to 827 million, or a compound annual growth rate of 90%" according to CNET.
"By 2001, enterprises will receive 25% of all customer contacts and inquiries through Internet e-mail" according to the Gartner Group.
International Data Corporation (IDC) reported in March, 1999, that approximately 200 million people will access the Web in 1999, growing to 500 million by 2003 (IDC Directions Conference).
IDC predicts the resultant ecommerce economy will grow even faster -- from just under $100 billion in 1999 to over $800 billion in 2003.
The following quote by Money Talks columnist; John Tompkins is a real eye opener:
"It took 38 years before 50 million Americans were listening to radio. Television picked up the pace reaching that many in only 14 years. The Internet had 50 million users in just four
Global Hybrid Mail is addressed anywhere.
Core Service. Every subscriber allocated an electronic address for life, supported by a single electronic in-box for all messaging, spanning:
The huge and largely untapped opportunity is in integrating surface mail with electronic messaging as hybrid mail. The market for postal services is well over a trillion dollars with the United States Postal Services USPS revenue in 1997 exceeding $US58b. Obtaining 10% of the global surface mail revenue is business opportunity worth well over $100b a year.
SOHO - at average 730* surface mail sends per user at 5minutes** preparation (for print, fold, envelope, postage and walk to letter box) = 60 hours @ $26/hr SOHO labour - $1,560 labour saving per year per SOHO = $2 value added per Hybrid Mail (excluding printing, postal charges etc.) Assume could charge up to $2 per message for this service.
*This United States Postal Services USPS figure has to be translated to PS figure for SOHOs. The Letter Business Plan provides an Australian average of 205 letter per head - check the Australian figure for SOHOs). A similar figure from Scandinavia averages 215 letters per head indicating significantly different consumer practices from the USA.
**The 5-minute preparation time is highly conservative. Figures of some 10 minutes are quoted by 'Paul Budde, Electronic Trading Markets 1998 section 18.104.22.168 as the average for printing a document, walking to the printer, then to the fax machine, to create a covert sheet, send the document, collect the receipt and return to the desk in an office environment -- in our case printing is followed by folding, enveloping, addressing, delivery to the mail-room or in the case of SOHO stamping if not prepaid and delivery to the post box.
A more likely scenario is 1 letter per day per Australian SOHO requiring 10 minutes handling and a total time saving of 60 hours a year as in the American case.
Other benefits include reliability, ability to track the delivery via the web and speed of delivery.
(c/f. $1 scenario because people not entirely rational about their time and doubts about reliability: will it really get there; what if they misprint my proposal?).
SME. Centralised mailroom function often combined with bulk mailings via mail houses. Still highly manual. Little automated and little batch processing. However, different to SOHOs are probably working closely with mailing houses, either in-house or outsourced, for direct marketing.
LMEs. Highly centralised mail operations and highly automated for invoicing and other bulk mailings. But still problems with the process (eg. finding the envelope store, pigeonholes, little faxing from PCs. Sending a postal item or faxing is – and may be slower per item than a SOHO.
Residential. Most numerous segment, but maybe slow to uptake. 2+ years.
SOHO. Highly sensitive to the value of their time; and perhaps SMEs. LMEs will be slower still for hierarchical and structural reasons. Residential will WOM and experience, seeing a friend with a SOHO using hybrid mail, for example.
Value-added services. Both A-Party and B-Party subscribers will pay transaction-based fees for all value-added services, whether for non-standard hybrid mail, enablement of different send and receive preferences and electronic messaging.
Web-based advertising revenue. Further revenue can be generated for Web advertisements and "click-throughs" from our electronic addressing Web-site (e.g. www.@domain). Revenues could be significant as subscriber traffic rises to use the site for subscribing, sending messages, tracking messages and changing subscriber preferences.
|Table 1: Subscriber activation – and hybrid mail services|
|A-party (sender)||B-party (receiver)||Per transaction||Activation||Periodic||Excess|
|Directory entry or additions|
|Table 2: E-mail and telephony-based messaging services|
|A-party (sender)||B-party (receiver)||Per transaction||Activation||Periodic||Excess|
3. What is the reaction by National Postal Services?
Postal services are still protected in most countries by a regulatory regime. For instance, in Australia all mail items with weight less than 250 grams have to be delivered by Postal Service. However, it is a mater 2-3 years at the most when the postal regulatory regimes will liberated similar to the free competition in the global information technology and telecommunications IT&T market. Now is the time to be in the market with the right business paradigm, partnerships and resources to tackle the global electronic messaging - postal services market.
Are there others – private enterprise providing hybrid mail? Yes, for example the E-Snailâ Internet Mail delivers email to any street address in the world for 99c for the first page and 20c for each subsequent page by using the USPS and via the USPS the other postal services. E-Snailâ, does not have the right business paradigm and the associated technology to succeed in a big way.
SWOT Analysis of National Postal Services (PS)
4. The Business – History and Present
The first known postal document, found in Egypt, dates from 255 BC. But even before that time postal services existed on nearly every continent in the form of messengers serving kings and emperors. It was not until the seventeenth century that the first international postal treaty was established, consisting of bilateral agreements governing the transit of mail within several European countries. The treaty of Berne establishing the "General Postal Union" was signed in 1874. Membership in the Union grew so quickly during the three years following the signing of the Treaty that the name "General Postal Union" was changed in 1878 to "Universal Postal Union".
Postal services form part of the daily life of people all over the world. The Universal Postal Union (UPU), with headquarters in Berne, Switzerland, is the specialised institution of the United Nations that regulates this truly universal service. The postal services of its 189 member countries form the largest physical distribution network in the world. Some 6.2 million postal employees working in over 700,000 post offices all over the world handle an annual total of 430 billion letters, printed matter and parcels in the domestic service and almost 10 billion letters, printed matter and parcels in the international service.
Source: http://ibis.ib.upu.org/AN/APropos.html Universal Postal Union web-site.
In 1995, 403 thousand million letters were handled by just more than six million postal employees throughout the world. This represents more than 1100 million items posted every day all over the globe. Nearly 98 per cent of these items remain in the domestic service of the country of posting while just over two per cent cross boundaries in the international postal service.
At present 86 per cent of the domestic mail in industrial countries is generated by the business sector, compared with 14 per cent by households. The forecast for 2005 shows a marked increase in the business to household segment, while there is a significant decline in the household to household segment.
According to the information provided, physical mail accounted for nearly 20 per cent of the world communications market in 1995. Fax and telephone covered 75 per cent and electronic mail just over five per cent. According to the study, the share of telephone and fax will hardly change by 2005 but electronic mail should double.
The share of physical mail in the communications market will decline by 26 per cent by 2005, falling from 20 per cent to less than 15 per cent of the total market. This decline in market share does not necessarily contradict the upward forecasts for physical mail since the communications market as a whole is progressing faster than the postal market, a trend that was noted in the past and that seems to be set to continue in the future. The greatest substitution effect will be seen in the business to business segment in high-income countries where more than 50 per cent of businesses will be able to use electronic mail by the year 2005.
5. Technology Outline of the Product-Service – how does it work?
The two critical and completely innovative concepts of our approach to implementing messaging-to-postal integration on a global scale are intelligent addressing and distributed nodes.
5.1 Intelligent Addressing
Each subscriber including the virtual subscribers is allocated a lifetime subscriber-id as a database-generated key. This key is stored in globally distributed and replicated directory services and can be forwarded to any email or postal address and to facsimile and phone numbers including IP addresses. Forwarding adds value and revenue.
The format of all addressing whether email, postal, facsimile etc. communication is always: base-address[-special-service-flags]@domain where [is optional] and domain is our Internet domain as service providers. This domain may be replaced by the customer’s domain if we host the customer’s MX record.
The base-address can be an email address, a postal address, a facsimile number or any other special service.
The first step in the SMTP routing process to is determine where the incoming email will be delivered as email in our domain. If so we accept it for delivery provided the incoming email domain matches the IP address as we reject spoofed addresses, secondly given that the incoming email domain is not black-listed by our anti-spamming filter and thirdly does not breach size limit and is virus free. This is the normal process for a quality messaging system.
Any email that requires the use of our gateway services must be authenticated for billing, non-repudiation and tracking purposes – the sender’s email address has to be listed in the directory services for valid subscribers. As an additional measure, the sender’s IP address has to be in the valid domain range. For example, a customer that uses Telco Big Pond for Internet access would be checked for IP addresses starting with 139.134.x.y. A customer may wish to relax this requirement for authentication or include multiple ranges.
Spoofing an e-mail address does not make sense because the surface mail generated will carry the from-address information of the spoofed.
Additional forms of authentication range from the weak username-password authentication over a web-interface to the use of a X.509 certificate proving strong authentication.
Base-address defaults to save typing will be the sender’s area and country code. For example, a fax to Ben Livson 99580489@domain would dial 61-2-99580489.
The format of a postal addresses would be receiver.[unit or suite no].streetno.streetname[.town].zipcode[.state][.country]@domain, for example
Ben.Livson.36.Minnamurra_Road.2063@domain where 2063 signifies Northbridge and NSW. In the above example, the sender is in Australia and thus .au or .Australia is not required.
How does the system understand that Ben.Livson.36.Minnamurra_Road.2063@domain is a postal address as opposed to a valid email address? Well here is the trick – if the domain is ours we do a directory look-up and ascertain that it is not an email address and not phone-fax-special service number so it must be either an error or a postal address. If it is a different domain, then it must be email.
The last step is to check for an error by analysing the postal address format. The address has to translate into a valid postal address. Postcodes are verified against [.town][.state][.country].
The [-special-service flags] are optional and one of an increasing list of value added services, for example .x might be defined as express mail meaning that the final delivery of the surface mail is by an express courier. Others value added services include:
Each mail will be assigned a system-id for tracking purposes and for usage billing reporting.
The use of barcodes on the printing, finishing and mailing equipment can provide complete confidence in the integrity of the mailout. These features are used for printing high value documents such as cheques and other financial instruments; as such they can become a costly option.
5.2 Distributed Nodes
The service will be designed to grow by the 5th year to more than 200 countries and 2,000 locations with locations each serving a maximum population of one million. Assume a maximum 10% take up for the service and an average two daily mails per subscriber. Scale for the peak hour handling of 20% of all traffic. Thus, a node is required to handle 40,000 email-to-postal conversions per peak hour. Assume an average two A4-size pages per postal item. This translates into 1,400 pages per minute printed. Assume maximum 50% capacity covering losses to print handling, sorting, addressing, and auto folding into envelopes. All said, a node must be designed to handle up to 3,000 printed pages per minute.
This is a formidable requirement. For example, top of the line Xerox production printers handle less than 200 pages per minute. Top of the line systems for bulk mailing handle 10,000 mails per hour.
A node must be operated 7x24 requiring a minimum of 4 staff in more than 2,000 locations. Thus, a total staff of 10,000 staff will be required by the 5th year. Obviously, most if not all of this can be outsourced. Similarly, delivery of the surface mail will be outsourced.
The nodes must be designed for one person to be able to operate a node at any given time. The large production printer feeds exceed 10,000 pages enabling them an hour of continuous operation.
Nodes have to be operated as mini data centres with security, uninterrupted power supply, two messaging-directory servers load sharing for fault-tolerance and intelligent queue-handling for printers to load share to maximise through put. The queue handling software has to be intelligent to work the postal priorities and favour small jobs over the big ones to minimise median time to process a postal item.
A critical requirement is for the nodes to be alarmed and monitored remotely. A failure of a node will be managed by re-routing to the closest available node.
The nodes must be highly automated requiring minimal operator skills with a single operator being able to operate the node at any given time.
The deployment of nodes will be multi-level starting with a pilot, progressing to a small national network followed by a network of international hubs – by the 2nd or 3rd year we anticipate the network of some 40-50 hubs to be operational. From there on starts the deployment under each hub forming its own star topology.
A key function of the SMTP handler is to authenticate electronic addressing to restrict any hybrid mails to paying users. Authenticate if any of the following conditions is true:
2. Email is from any of the other trusted domains.
3. Email is signed with a certificate of the hybrid mail series.
4. The email address has been registered with the user accepting the financial risk for weak authentication. The email address can be partially authenticated via DNS to establish that the IP packets are from the right domain. For example, email from Ben.Livson@bal.com.au could be rejected if the IP packets do not come from the DNS-MX designation 202.139.xxx.yyy for the domain bal.com.au. Also, any hybrid mail would carry Ben Livson's name and postal address as the sender of the envelope. Thus, any attempt to spoof as Ben.Livson@bal.com.au would not make any sense except unless mindlessly malicious.
5. Http session with strong certificate based authentication.
6. Http session with a weak username-password authentication with the user accepting the financial risk for weak authentication.
7. The to-address is a registered address for B-party services with the user accepting to pay for any hybrid mail services for the given electronic address.
5.4 Billing and Customer Care
Billing will be similar in the volume and complexity to the billing of a telecommunications carrier providing itemised billing. Obviously, we have the advantage of not being saddled with billing that has evolved over a very long time, thus enabling us a fresh start.
All processes including service activation, billing and customer care should be web and messaging enabled to minimise cost and to maximise customer satisfaction.
Examples of streamlined billing and customer care are:
The itemised billing record for hybrid mail consists of:
ü No of pages printed
ü Mail class (as per standard postal services definition)
ü Customer-id-for-billing (alliance, trusted domain or third party)
ü Status - a record of both successful and unsuccessful hybrid mails is kept. The status codes for unsuccessful hybrid mail attempts include failed authentication, invalid postal address and unknown attachment type that cannot be converted.
ü Value added service attributes
Customers receive an itemised monthly (periodic) bill by email. Customers may receive on-line
6. Market Analysis – Breakdown of the major Users
Expected patterns of substitution and growth for hybrid mail by current surface mail segmentation
|Segment||Substitution||Primary driver||Increased usage||Primary driver|
|Business to Home ||70% |
1:1 marketing; Targeted promotion and ads
|Ease of communication|
|Household to Business||10% |
Primarily return mail by business requesting a response or signature; most businesses have e-mail
|Ease of use||0% |
|Household to household||10% to 25%+? |
Initially low growing to medium
|Ease of use||10% - 25%+? |
Low to medium
(eg. connected users sending hybrid mail to unconnected parents/friends)
NOTE: Influence of multi-point communications (eg. videophone?)
|Ease of use|
|Business to business||3%? |
Most business/government agencies have e-mail
|Very low to Low|
People either lack the medium (eg. not Internet connected), not convenient at that time of day (eg. not next to the fax machine) or don’t wish to have it (eg. the CEO).
The basic need for messaging will be with us for the foreseeable future. There will also be the need for physical delivery of mail
Postal Service letters 3.8 billion, based on 205 pa per person - 0.6 letter per day per person.
All e-mail may reach 1 billion emails pa based on 2+/day sent based on current 1.2 million users. Therefore if we accept 50% substitution and no natural growth – then approx. 4% fall in market share (1.2m email users out of a 15m writing age population is 8%). At $2 per item and accept that 10% are also sent hybrid mail….
Assume that static usage of 2 e-mails per day free of cost, 1 new hybrid mail and 0.3/day fewer normal mail = + $2 - 0.3*$0.45 = +$1.86
6.1 Customer segments
SOHOs and SMEs are the most attractive segments.
|LME. Large-to-Medium sized Enterprise||Already have existing mail rooms and infrastructures built|
|SME Small-to-Medium-sized Enterprise|
|SOHO Small Office Home Office|
|Residential.||Take years to educate on…|
Controlled take-up required but price is not the best mechanism for doing this (c/f. Relay One @ US$3.80)
INSERT Table from previous workshop on revenue options
Certificate Authority. An additional bundling opportunity is to link Certificate Authority with secure electronic messaging, e-commerce and hybrid mail. All Australians provided access to a Certificate Authority certificate for a small say $10 service activation fee providing:
Alliances. PS and Telco. Nature/functional split of alliance:
7. Management and Organisation
The proposed management and organisation will be:
8. Financial Plan - Pricing, Revenue and Cost
The current global email user base of 200 million is projected to exceed 1 billion in six years.
Assume a modest 200 hybrid mails per user growing to 400 with pricing dropping from $5 to $2.50 per hybrid mail, the revenue per user will be $1,000 per year. Assume 30% of all email users taking up the service and us having 20% per cent market share in the hybrid mail market. Such a projection would lead to 12 million customers by year 2 growing to 60 million customers by year 6. Now divide by three as a worst case scenario yielding 4 millions customers by year 2 and 20 million customers by year 6. Revenue in the worst case scenario would taking into account most of the build up towards the end of the first year being $1b, $5b, $9b, $12b and $15b for year 2 to year 6 respectively. All the dollars quotes are $USD.
|Profit & Loss P/L||1-year setup||2-year||3-year||4-year||5-year||6-year|
The assumptions are:
10. Profile on Potential Business Partners
10.1 When and how to involve Global Business Partners?
10.3 United Parcel Service - UPS
By 1993, UPS was delivering 11.5 million packages and documents a day for more than one million regular customers. With such a huge volume, UPS relies on technology to maintain efficiency, to keep prices competitive, and to provide new customer services. Technology at UPS spans an incredible range, from specially designed package delivery vehicles, to global computer and communications systems. For example, UPSnet is a global electronic data communications network that provides an information processing pipeline for international package processing and delivery. UPSnet, which has more than 500,000 miles of communications lines, including a UPS satellite, links more than 1,300 UPS distribution sites in 46 countries. The system tracks 821,000 packages daily. Between 1986 and 1991, UPS spent $1.5 billion on technology improvements, planning an additional $3.2 billion to be spent over the next five years. These improvements are aimed at both efficiency and expanded customer service.
See http://www.exchange.ups.com for UPS OnLine® Dossier and UPS OnLine® Courier powered by Tumbleweed Software servicing premium value added secure messaging services.
10.4 Federal Express Corp.
Federal Express connects areas that generate 90% of the world’s gross domestic product in 24-48 hours with door-to-door, customs-cleared service and a money-back guarantee. The company’s unmatched air route authorities and infrastructure make it the world’s largest express transportation company, providing fast, reliable and time-definite transportation of 3 million items to 211 countries each working day. FedEx employs approximately 140,000 people and has more than 43,000 drop-off locations, 600 aircraft and 39,500 vehicles in its integrated global network. The company maintains electronic connections with more than 850,000 customers via FedEx Powership®, FedEx Ship® and FedEx interNetShipSM. Federal Express reported revenues of $11.5 billion for its fiscal year ended May 31, 1997.
10.5 DHL Worldwide Express
DHL Worldwide Express is the world's largest and most experienced international air express network with service to more than 675,000 destinations in the world. DHL maintains its position as the world's leading international air express network by continually expanding and upgrading its network of offices, hubs and services, and by offering superior service through a well-trained and dedicated work force. On an average day, more than 260 thousand DHL shipments are sent to destinations throughout the world. In 1994, DHL handled 95 million shipments.
Countries and territories served 227 with 2,381 stations servicing virtually every city around the world.
DHL And AT&T To Offer Industry's Most Comprehensive Electronic Notification Service For International Express Shipment Recipients.
11. Competitor Analysis
|Postal Service and Telco in partnership|
(White Pages +e-mail)
The announcement on the Microsoft-Royal hybrid mail launch is attached below and can be located at: http://www.abcnews.com/sections/tech/DailyNews/email_snailmail0402.html:
L O N D O N, April 2 — Britain's post office and software giant Microsoft Corp. are launching a mixed Internet and postal service enabling Internet users worldwide to send e-mail to Britain for postal distribution in Britain and in Europe.
RelayOne customers will be able to transfer e-mail through the Microsoft Network, Microfossil's Internet arm, to Britain, where printed copies will be sent by first-class or airmail delivery. "Serious consideration" is also being given to providing global coverage for the project with printing sites likely in the next 12 months in the Americas, where the United States is "a big market opportunity," Southeast Asia and Australasia, a Royal Mail spokesman told Reuters.
He declined to say whether it was also planned to extend printing to Continental Europe.
At present, printing will be in London, Chesterfield and Leicester in Britain and would expand as justified by demand.
A joint statement described RelayOne as "fast, convenient and simple, providing a real alternative to regular mail, fax or courier services."
The combination of "traditional postal communication and the Internet will reduce the cost and increase the speed of sending letters and documents, including graphics, to everyone, anywhere in the world."
Backup for E-mail Exchanges
RelayOne's fast printed copies would back up electronic mail exchanges. It is also aimed at the personal market.
It will cost 1.50 pounds ($2.50) for a one-page letter e-mailed from anywhere in the world. Four pages will cost three pounds ($5), while a 50-page document will cost five pounds ($8.35) for delivery in Europe and 10 pounds ($16.70) elsewhere.
Each message will bear a unique number for transmission tracking before automatic printing, but "there will be no individual vetting of messages" on privacy grounds, the spokesman added.
Royal Mail did not disclose projected revenues but said they would be shared between the two partners based on their respective investments.
Copyright 1998 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
The author's competitive analysis follows:
Sweden Post in partnership with Netscape and Sun is implementing a Global Hybrid Mail system for some four million Swedes over the next twelve-to-eighteen months. Sweden Post is negotiating with a number of postal services including Canada Post. We believe that Sweden Post does not have the ability to market this globally. Also, we note the financial difficulties of Netscape and Microsoft willing to invest large resources to block every move by Netscape. The likely scenario is a friendly takeover of Netscape by Sun. Some talk has been about IBM or Oracle taking over Netscape but Netscape's attractiveness as a takeover target is rapidly diminishing. The author visited Sweden Post, has access to Sweden Post presentation materials and has tried his best to assist Sweden Post in dealings with Postal Service. In the author's opinion Sweden Post has lost its 18 month market lead and is rapidly becoming an 'also run'.
E-Snailâ has been decommissioned in favour of another US based service provider LetterGramâ - the below is an excellent example of the dangers small private providers face in trying to provide hybrid mail.
The NetGramâ system consists of a database of user-supplied postal recipients, and a specialized email server that allows you to designate those recipients by email. Currently NetGramâ supports only ASCII text messages. The inventor regards NetGramâ evenmore restrictive and less capable than the old E-Snailâ service.
We proceed to describe the previous more capable E-Snailâ service.
E-Snail is an E-Mail / Postal Mail gateway. You send an e-mail to us, and we print it and
send it by United States Postal Service.
Why would I use E-Snailâ? (for more information see http://e-snail.com/index.html)
If you live outside of the United States, use E-Snail to save on the cost of international
postage, to speed delivery, or to improve the reliability of your international mail.
If you travel for business or pleasure, use E-Snail to send mail when you are unfamiliar
with local postal systems or when you don't have the time or facilities to print a
If you wish you would write more but never get around to it, use E-Snail to send off
quick notes in seconds.
If you always need to borrow a stamp, search for an envelope, and then carry the letter
around with you for a week until you remember to ask someone else to put it in a mailbox
for you, use E-Snail to send mail instantly.
If you need to send a résumé or C.V. but don't want to print it out at the office, use
E-Snail to send your mail as an attached file.
If you ever want to send an e-mail to somebody who doesn't have an e-mail address.
Use E-Snail to send your electronic message to any street address on the planet.
How do you charge for E-Snail?
Accounts are settled to a credit card at the end of each month. Members receive an
itemized statement of their monthly activity by e-mail.
Personal checks and money orders may also be used to pre-pay E-Snail accounts.
Pre-paid balances will be drawn down as services are used.
Businesses may set up invoiced accounts. Inquiries regarding special payment
arrangements should be directed to Admin@e-snail.com.
E-Snailâ is a US Colorado based company that specialises in hybrid mail at very reasonable prices using US Postal Service of delivery. E-Snailâ suffers for cumbersome addressing and more importantly lacks credibility. E-Snail tries to address this by displaying the Web Assurance Bureau logo.
Regular E-Snailâ pricing follows:
The US telecommunications giant AT&T Mail - at $A100b+ pa is the size of IBM or the US Postal Services -is offering universal messaging supporting delivery in just about any form including:
1: US Postal Services Delivery (currently restricted to the USA)
2: Overnight delivery via a courier anywhere in the USA
3: Mail Print to any receive-only printer in the USA (The on-demand
Internet Printing Protocol IPP looms very big as a competitor to Postal
Services hybrid mail.
4: The unified messaging includes email, fax and EDI using a patented
messaging architecture built on top of the AT&T X.400 messaging backbone.
11.5 International Data Post Hybrid Mail ePOST
The hybrid mail deliver-and-print postal solution that originated within Finland Post in 1988 is now licensed as ePOST by 18 countries around the globe, including the United States under the management of International Data Post head quartered in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The Hybrid Mail ePOST core systems allow Postal Services to process, manage and offer secure customer access independently from their IT environment via ePOST/DS (data stream) format. Added value to ePOST customers includes:
The focus for most the marketing efforts is heavily business oriented with 50% of ePOST mail from business to home, 35% from business-to-business, only 5% of mail is home-to-business and 10% is home-to-home.
The current PC ePOST is a fourth generation development:
EPOST wants to be a conduit for all kinds of electronic messaging, EDI, fax, email, Internet, etc. in addition to physical mail - otherwise Postal Services have reached their sunset stage.
ePOST pricing in Finland is 30% above normal postal pricing with ePOST letters costing about $1 1st class for the first page before quantity discounts, 10c for each subsequent page, $5 registered and $7 for proof of receipt.
11.5.1 IDP PC ePOST
In mid-1999 IDP is scheduled to announce a PC ePOST Version 4. It will be integrated with the Internet standard SMTP e-mail. . It will be latest version of the hybrid mail print and deliver postal solution that originated in Finland Post in 1988 - and is now licensed as ePOST by postal services in 18 countries around the globe, including Australia and United States; ePOST is managed by IDP (which is headquartered Denmark).
The utility of this product would be significantly enhanced under the proposed the electronic addressing service, by the supporting infrastructure allowing intelligent addressing and print-on-demand, by the hybrid mail delivery service.
A solution based around PC ePOST is illustrated in an IDP diagram below.
For the print on demand technology, IDP partners with industry leaders like IBM, Siemens and Fuji Xerox.
11.5.2 Further development will be needed
Some important questions remain about the functionality of Version 4 of PC ePOST. For example:
So, even though the forthcoming version of PC ePOST represents a promising "off the shelf" product, it is only a partial solution. In any event, even if the full server-side functionality is available (i.e. no requirement for client software other than e-mail and browser), there will still likely to be at least four areas requiring integration :
11.6 Partial Net Postage Metering Solutions - E-Stamp and StampMaster
|The U.S. Postal Service has given it permission to test its technology for delivering postage over the Internet to half a dozen companies including E-Stamp and StampMaster (renamed Stamps.com), Pitney-Bowes and Neopost. |
StampMaster's Internet Postage metering system allows users to print electronic postage delivered over the Internet directly onto envelopes or labels using ordinary laser or ink jet printers. E-Stamp also allows postage to be downloaded from the Net and printed directly onto envelopes using software, a small piece of hardware, and a standard printer.
Both solutions are mainly aimed at the SOHO and small enterprise market that have traditionally been too small for the Pitney Bowes Inc. digital franking systems. However, lately Pitney Bowes has started licensing its PC Postage inventions.
PC-generated postage is only applicable to envelopes that are addressed by computer, and Pitney
Bowes’ research indicates that only about 30% of small office mail falls into that category.
Internet franking is only a small part of the automation achievable by hybrid messaging. The whole cycle requires electronic delivery to the print-on demand centre nearest to the addressee with printing, folding, insertion, addressing the envelope and franking with postal or courier delivery of the last leg in the most efficient manner.
The above Net Postal solutions typically add a new function to the MS Word Mail Merge, Envelopes and Labels functionality but the process is still largely manually and requires activity on-site.
Compaq, Microsoft and AT&T being shareholders of E-Stamp demonstrates that these blue chips value the business potential of the postal services market.
11.7 Internet Print Protocol
Another type of solution for print on demand is the Internet Printing Protocol IPP where a printer is assigned a URL. Clearly, this solution addresses mainly the high end intranet-extranet market where the receiver carries the cost of printing. IPP substitutes some facsimile traffic.
It is difficult to see any advantage of IPP over email with pdf or print file attachment. The author thinks IPP will have minimal impact on hybrid messaging.
11.8 Hybrid Mail Advertising Revenues
Advertising is a major additional source of revenue for a hybrid mail provider. Think of the potential for advertising revenue via the web-logon for hybrid messaging. The portal could easily be the number one revenue generator of all portals. Similarly, think of the advertising value of global hybrid mail sent to a service provider such as IBM or Xerox. For example, if Xerox were the service provider then potentially hundreds of millions of subscribers would typing firstname.lastname@example.org every time they send a hybrid mail. Each time both the sender and receiver(s) see Xerox as the provider, thus Xerox becoming part of the sub-conscience of mankind! If a blue chip such as IBM or Xerox would place 10c advertising value for each hybrid message and were to deliver via standard email clients a billion hybrid messages a year, then the advertising value would be $100m a year. Similarly, if another billion messages a year were delivered via web-logon, the web portal advertising revenue could be worth several hundred million dollars a year.
11.9 Tumbleweed POSTA and UPS OnLine® Dossier and UPS OnLine® Courier
http://www.tumbleweed.com/Posta 3.0 www.posta.com web-based S/MIME solution for universal, secure communication applications used to power UPS secure messaging offerings:
http://www.exchange.ups.com UPS OnLine® Dossier and UPS OnLine® Courier.
Tumbleweed Posta integrates with e-mail, back-office systems, and front-office online applications to add the universal, reliable delivery and tracking required for confidential correspondence, document collaboration, automated transactions, customer management, and e-commerce. Tumbleweed Posta enables secure delivery of electronic documents to anyone with e-mail and Web access, without adding additional hardware or client software:
11.10 ELetter http://www.eletter.com
"Taking Internet postal service one step further, San Jose-based ELetter Inc. produces, mails and tracks small businesses' correspondence. "Give us your address list and the content, and we'll take care of everything else," says ELetter CEO and President Manish Mehta. Users start by sending their mailing lists to ELetter's Web site. ELetter verifies the addresses against a USPS database and flags addresses that are potentially undeliverable. After arranging how the addresses will look on the correspondence, users upload the document for mailing and select production options, such as paper type, size and color. Finally, a user can mail himself or herself a proof, or sample, before paying with a credit card.
Although Mehta says the cost of a mailing varies depending on the number of pieces processed and the mailing and production options chosen, the average price is usually between 15 cents and $1 per item. The service has been available exclusively on ELetter.com since January. Because ELetter has digitally automated the production, folding, envelope stuffing, addressing and postage application, it can handle small jobs that traditional mail houses would normally turn down." Source: David Coursey's Showcase April 07, 1999, http://www.upside.com
"The company targets the more than 10 million small-to-medium size businesses and departments within large corporations that can't afford the services of traditional mail houses.
Further quotes from http://www.eletter.com :
According to the U.S. Postal Service, mailings by small-to-medium size
businesses in the U.S. make up a $1.1 billion market. Today, 92 percent of
small-to-medium size businesses prepare their mail manually, dealing with the
painful and time-consuming processes of printing, cleaning address lists, stuffing,
stamping, licking, etc. Traditional lettershops require large volumes to be
cost-effective and service bureaus that charge on an individual piece-by-piece basis
are too expensive (up to $2.00 per piece). Companies mailing any less than 5,000
pieces at one time find their needs overlooked today.
ELetter Communication Service eliminates the headache associated with manual
mailings, plus it costs up to 50 percent less than existing outsourcing options.
The ELetter Advantage: Splitstream Automation
ELetter utilizes proprietary state-of-the-art production equipment and advanced
rule-driven, workflow modeling technology to eliminate all manual labor involved in
the production process. This technology, called ELetter Splitstream Automation,
allows error-free high-speed mail production. The operational efficiency is passed on
to businesses in the form of significantly reduced costs (up to 50 percent lower than
competitive offerings) and higher quality. Its super-scalable design eliminates the
need for manual job-by-job setup operations and can easily adjust to increased
The ELetter Partnerships
At the time of this writeup ELetter was in test marketing. The service is all printed from the one Californian location, thus requiring up to two days for domestic US delivery and probably up to 5 days for international delivery. The pricing is yet to be decided but heavily based towards penetration pricing as the offering competes with established mailhouses.
It is likely that current technical limitation in letter size, stationary, print styles, lack of online account, ability to delete accounts etc. will be resolved by the time the service goes live.
12 Outsourced Corporate LAN Printing Services
Outsourced corporate LAN printing services could be a significant additional revenue stream for global hybrid mail. Early hybrid mail providers such as IDP have grown their business as outsourced billing and statement printers and mailers. Extending this to service outsourced corporate LAN printing services is the next logical step.
Printing is a major corporate cost. A significant cost of LAN file and print services and desktop support relate to printing. Valuable staff time is wasted in printing not being available and in staff using incorrectly configured templates, changing stationary and to unblock printer jams. Printers are noisy, create heat, occupy floor space, require supplies of paper, toner and maintenance. In short, printing is a constant headache that most corporations and staff would gladly see outsourced and out of site (and out of sight).
The infrastructure for global hybrid mail would be ideally suited for outsourced corporate LAN printing services. A combination of global on-demand print services provider such as Fuji Xerox that develops, manufactures and services printers expanding into services and a logistics company such postal services or UPS, DHL or AMEX could offer first class outsourcing for corporate printing.
13 Where to from here?
Last update: 26 March 1999. For updates see http://www.bal.com.au/hybrid.htm
BAL Consulting P/L has a major research interest in hybrid messaging systems including email to postal services conversion. Some of the research will be declassified by 2Q 1999. In the meantime here are some of the more interesting public domain links to hybrid messaging:
Post 2005 Study by the Universal Postal Union under: http://www.upu.int/
International Data Post A/S http://www.idp.dk
Print On Demand Initiative (PODi): http://www.podi.org
Sweden Post @post site http://www5.torget.se/TorgetPost/
E-Snailâ successor called NetGramâhttp://www.netgram.com/default.asp
Estamp the Internet Postage Company http://www.estamp.com/
Digital Franking http://www.pitneybowes.com/ and http://www.neopost.com/
Virtual Post Office http://www.stamps.com formerly StampMarker Inc.
USPS Stamps Online https://www.stampsonline.com:443/ordering/index.htm
USPS Information Based Indicium Program http://www.usps.gov/ibip.
http://www.tumbleweed.com/Posta 3.0 www.posta.com web-based S/MIME solution for
universal, secure communication applications used to power UPS secure messaging offerings:
http://www.exchange.ups.com UPS OnLine® Dossier and UPS OnLine® Courier
Universal Messaging http://www.ipservices.att.com/messaging/
Internet Mail Consortium http://www.imc.org
Major document on comparing S/MIME and PGP/MIME.
http://idm.internet.com/features/strom/imsg3_2toc.shtml is a good introduction to basic messaging standards
Group 5 Future of Messaging Forum
G5 Messaging - The Future of Messaging Nov/Dec. 98
Electronic Messaging Association www.ema.org
Some of the Unified Messaging providers:
http://www.telebot.com/ "free" unified messaging
http://www.octel.com - part of the Lucent Technologies
http://www.plpt.com Pulse point Communications
http://www.redrock.com.au Redrock Communications MessageNet
http://www.freeoffice.com/tbd/ ESA from StarTouch International http://www.unifiedmessaging.com/
http://www.comversens.com/ Comverse Network Systems - a supplier of enhanced services for Telcos
http://www.mailmail.com/ Web Office, messaging, fax platform for ISPs
http://www.commtouch.com web-based email which integrates voicemail, fax, pager and telephone services.
E-Service -- Enhanced Email based Customer Care Solutions:
http://www.ask.com Ask Jeeves
Ferris Research www.ferris.com
Radicati Group http://www.radicati.com/
SAFEmps online pander file processing http://secure.mailorder.com/mps/suppress.html