Geocities Developers Turn to Web Mail

The same Web entrepreneurs that developed the original portal software behind Geocities chat and bulletin board systems are on a mission to turn Web mail on its head. Goowy Mail, which is currently in beta, uses Flash-based software to produce a rich Internet application that functions like a desktop e-mail client.

Goowy Mail reproduces the majority of a desktop e-mail application's functionality with features like keyboard shortcuts, right-clicking, animations, alerts, sounds, and spell checker. In addition to its core feature set, Goowy has POP3 support, advanced mail and contact management and the ability to multitask - meaning e-mail is sent and received in the background while the user performs other tasks.

Reflecting today's hostile Internet environment, the service also has the standard issue of malware and spam blocking tools. Upcoming features are calendaring and Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed support.

Earthlink will launch a similar service for it members in May called EarthLink Enhanced Webmail. Like Goowy, EarthLink's offering follows a Flash-based development model that uses software created by Laszlo.

When asked why a Flash-powered interface was chosen, Goowy co-founder Alex Bard explained that support for multiple platforms was hard to do with programming languages like DHTML, and that Flash was the right model from a proprietary distribution perspective.

Unlike Laszlo, which licenses out its technology to clients, Goowy will run its service independently as a hosted enterprise-scale competitor to other Web mail services.

Bard also said that Goowy will not play the "numbers game" by offering massive storage. Instead, Goowy is offering just 100 MB of space that it will "dynamically adjust" with real-time analysis of user behavior. Google recently upped its Gmail storage capacity to over 2GB, with Yahoo set to offering 1GB of space.

"People do not want to mill through five years of e-mail," said Bard. "People like to be more organized with their files but at the same time we do not want to be prohibitive."

Goowy is enticing users to register for its service with weekly giveaways. This week, new members have a chance to win a drawing for an iPod Shuffle. The company claims that it already has in excess of 4,000 active accounts through word of mouth advertising alone, and projects a total of 10,000 members within the next month.

Accounts are free of cost and ad-supported; more advanced services will require a subscription.

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