Spoiled By Free

February 20, 2012

So. Irked by Google’s metamorphosis into Facebook and cavalier attitude toward privacy, I am looking into Gmail alternatives.

So far, FastMail is a good candidate. It’s free / ad supported to start. But then we get to the slightly difficult part of possibly paying for it.

FastMail has free / paid tiers.┬áRemoving ads costs $4.95 a year. But the “Enhanced” tier – which is what I really want, as it supports your own domains – is $39.95 a year.

Yeah, and that’s where I paused. Because of the price. $4.95 seems like a really good deal, but I can’t pull the trigger on $39.95 a year just yet.

Which is sad.

I have no problem dropping as much on impulse-buy groceries, books, a dinner out, random crap from Amazon, but $39.95 a year for a web service just feels expensive. And it’s pretty clear why this is so; because of the plethora a free services, starting with Google’s own Gmail and pretty much everything else they provide, makes other similar services seem like a bad deal.

And while it’s a brilliant strategy on the part of Google, there’s just something wrong about expecting web services to be free. In how the value of something is debased so severely that free / ad-supported is always the default. In the expectation that anything delivered digitally (movies, music, ebooks) could conceivably be free with tons of ads sprinkled all over it. And it’s especially annoying if you, like me, generally dislike advertising.

I must pay for FastMail now, if only to prove a point to myself that $39.95 a year is actually a pretty darned good deal. Even if Google has convinced my subconscious otherwise.

And to ponder this further: would you use Facebook / Twitter / Google+ if they charged $39.95 a year? Why not? Considering how much some folks use it, you’d think it’d be a no-brainer to pay at least as much.


  1. Mike says:

    You have a webhost – don’t they include email hosting?

    I’ve been happy with Dreamhost for a few years, now. I anxiously awaited the arrival of IMAP for Gmail, but when it finally came, they messed it up pretty badly. Glad to say I don’t really use Gmail anymore.

    • yeah, my host does have email, but I never liked the look of their web-based email (Roundcube, squirrelmail). Although, now that I think of it, Roundcube seems to have plug ins and perhaps I can bend it to my will.