Software company moves to give its product away


There comes a time in most Internet users' life when the standard e-mail program that comes with your Web browser is no longer satisfactory.

E-mail clients bundled with Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Netscape Communicator have certainly improved a lot since their earlier versions. But in a feature-by-feature review, standalone e-mail programs can still offer users more powerful features.

For a lot of users -- in fact, millions of users -- Qualcomm's Eudora has been the program of choice.

For the past several years, Eudora has been available in two forms.

The first was as a full-featured, retail Eudora Pro version that sold online and in stores for about $50.

The second was a free-for-the-asking Eudora Light version.

The difference between the two was features. The ``light'' version allowed users to access many (but not all) of the programs features. Registering the program -- and paying full price -- would enable the software's more powerful features.

Taking a cue from other ad-supported Internet business models, Qualcomm is adding a third version of its Eudora e-mail software -- one supported by banner advertising.

Eudora Pro 4.3 will be released early next year, and during installation, users can opt for an ad-supported version that will display a small banner ad in the lower left corner of the program's e-mail window.

The banners won't be animated, and will designed to be as unintrusive as possible.

For the ``price'' of tolerating a bit of advertising, users will get the benefit of using the newest release Qualcomm's Eudora Pro at no cost.

Users will have the opportunity to pay Eudora Pro's retail price -- $49.95 -- to eliminate the single banner ad.

FEATURE-PACKED. Eudora Pro's many features include inline spell-checking and advance filter options.

Third-party developers have created add-on tools for Eudora, adding the ability to easily encrypt messages, create greeting cards, send faxes and more.

Macintosh users can take part in the program too -- Qualcomm has Mac versions of Eudora available too.

The beta version of Eudora Pro 4.3 now available at Eudora's Web site ( and includes features like voice messaging, automatic name completion, support for multiple users and more.

The beta release is limited to 250,000 users, but is free for the taking at their Web site.

I've been a user of Eudora for years, and I'll probably wait for the final version, which should be available in the next 90 days.

Qualcomm estimates 22 million Web surfers use one version or another of Eudora for their e-mail. Thirty percent of those, the company claims, are paying users.

FREE WEB WAVES. Free Internet access is still a novelty here in the U.S., but experts predict that it could see some explosive growth in the next 18 months.

Providers of free Internet access can afford to do so by placing banner advertising in a window on your Web browser. This ad window can't be deleted, closed or moved totally off the desktop.

The free Internet providers makes no money from their users; income is generated by selling banner ads that appear on users' desktops.

Will those ads be too intrusive to Internet users to stomach?

The answer is a resounding ``no,'' according to market research by Jupiter Communications.

Nearly 13 percent of all consumer Internet users will be using ``free'' providers as their primary provider by 2003, the study said.

The report predicts that ``free'' Internet providers will fill a niche market by providing users with some price flexibility. ``Portal'' Web sites and those promoting major consumer brand names will benefit most from offering their own fee Internet access services, the study said.

GETTING BUSY. The Internet is becoming more and more an avenue of commerce, according to a new study.

The number of consumers who have purchased products or services online has doubled in the past year, according to a study by Yankelovich Partners.

Online trading and shopping for financial services was up 44 percent over last year.

And even it consumers aren't buying online, the study says they're using it for research -- fully 60 percent said they almost always turn to the Internet when seeking information about companies.

Interestingly, 64 percent of those taking the survey agreed that having a PC has improved their lifestyle.

And now at Christmas time, a newer, faster and more powerful computer would improve my life tremendously.

Are you listening, Santa?

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