Super interesting episode of "Small is Beautiful" by @aral and @laura and special guest CTO of Basecamp David Heinemeier Hansson

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@ff0000 @aral @laura
Lots of good new angles.

The one thing I kept asking myself, though: Wouldn't Hey scale a lot better while also improving data protection somewhat if they turned their web interface into a standalone desktop/mobile e-mail client? Because that's something anyone could use, independent of who their provider is.

Of course, selling software is out of fashion (and mail clients might actually be hard to sell), but I feel that would be actually better for more people.

@Mr_Teatime @aral @laura who is the 'provider' in this case? isn't just a browser giving a lot more flexibility and a lower threshold for people to start using the service?

So, many people seem to prefer webmail over a dedicated client. I've never been able to understand that.

A standalone client gives way more flexibility in user interaction and how it organizes and presents your mail. Most of Hey's features seem to be in the area of sorting and organizing mail, which can be done independent of the mail server and its operator (partially even when offline!). With IMAP, it should be possible to sync the state across user devices, too.
@aral @laura

@ff0000 @aral @laura
A web interface seems useful to me as a fallback if you haven't got your client available, and for conference services like Jitsi meet or BBB, where you don't want to ask every participant to install some software for a potentially short, single conversation.

Hey's customers spend 99$/y. That's a bigger threshold (at least to me) than installing a new mail client.

At this point, I'd be happy to pay for a good mail client (and browser) built for users, not sponsors

@Mr_Teatime @aral @laura I would argue that having a standalone clients gives you more flexibility and optimization possibilities (and i do like standalone apps to get the most out of your software). But, from a development point, you have to support at least Android and iOS for mobile clients, you have to support Windows, macOS, and different flavors of Linux to do your desktop clients. A browser, in a sense is all of that already. (ignoring the premium price aspect for a second).

@Mr_Teatime @aral @laura Also, when developing for all these platforms, you need C, Swift, Kotlin etc developers, you need to deal with the different licenses and distribution platform and support newer platforms and older.

True. Plus bugfixing and troubleshooting is probably a ton easier if the thing you're developing is running on a server which you control yourself. Business-wise, it's also become really hard to "sell" software to private persons.
So I can understand any company that doesn't want to go there.

But from a user perspective, that is absolutely what I'd prefer, and tell all my friends about.
If the market is really preventing this, that kinda proves that something's wrong.
@aral @laura

@ff0000 @aral @laura
...but, following what David said: Is it true that such a client could not be developed in an economically-sustainable way, or is that another modern myth?

I lack the coding skills or entrepreneurship (and money...) to test that hypothesis, but if someone started selling an e-mail client as capable as that (or maybe including some of what #Vivaldi mail client can do) I'd buy it.

@Mr_Teatime @aral @laura I think that was more about the business model where 'software as a service' products which are free mean that in the end the user is the product (gmail), but when there is a clear price structure, that is the thing you purchase. As with Basecamp or Hey, you pay a certain amount per month / year, which gives you in return the product.

I know.
What I was saying is: If it's a myth that you can't get users to pay for service, then it might also be a myth that you could not get users to pay for software.

Particularly because there are tons of companies out there who do just that, right now.

So the more specific question is, really: Could you get enough people to pay for a user-centric e-mail client to fund its development? I can't answer that but I think it'd be better for users than webmail.
@aral @laura

@Mr_Teatime @aral @laura Sorry, i think the different definitions of 'service' and 'software' got a bit muddled. I see Hey and Basecamp as a service and their apps as software that runs that service. But the software is in a way useless without the service you pay for.

That being said, i do think that people are willing to pay for something as long as it is an upgrade to their current usage. Which is very hard in the case of email of course, as we are so used to 'free' services.

@Mr_Teatime @aral @laura What do you mean with 'a server which you control yourself'? These days that line is so blurry (no matter if you are creating an application in the browser or for Android) as to what ownership really is.

I mean that if you run a web service (webmail in this case), you either own the server or at least have logical access to it if you're renting one. So you can straight-up look at the software in action and monitor error logs, as opposed to software that runs on user devices, in which case you get (at best) error reports from users, which you may or may not be able to reproduce yourself

...what else did you think I meant?

@aral @laura

@Mr_Teatime @aral @laura Personally for me at this point is that i prefer my Protonmail tab over my Spark application (that is a memory hog). Email for me really is something that can be easily done in a browser (and scales very well onto all kinds of devices, hell, it can even work on a text based browser). To compare, i prefer Figma desktop client over the browser version though, that's where for me there is the divide.

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