On December 17 last year, Econet announced it was preparing to launch an email system for broadband subscribers. Exactly a month later, Econet Mail has gone live. Econet has announced the system is ready and broadband subscribers will be getting their login credentials via SMS.
The email system is restricted to Econet subscribers who are activated for mobile broadband. Basically, subscribers’ mobile numbers will become their usernames to produce an email address like email@example.com for a subscriber whose mobile number is 0772 123 456. The web address of the mail system is http://webmail.econetmail.com.
As the service is targeted at Econet Broadband customers, the assumption is that you’l be using the Econet broadband internet service to access the Econet Mail. The intention is clearly to encourage Econet Broadband internet usage, but there’s nothing to stop you from using the Econet Mail service on an internet connection not provided by Econet.
Use of the mail system is free, but subscribers will pay their usual internet provider for access. If your internet provider is Econet (Econet Broadband) you’l still need to buy data bundles to to access your mail.
The concept is interesting, especially how it might impact communication for a lot of people who currently don’t have email addresses. Let’s call them the un-emailed for lack of a better term. It will also be interesting, if it works, if the other mobile providers will follow suit.
We imagine Zimbabwean software developers would have interesting services to build atop such a platform.
But like we opined about this last year, Econet would do good to provide some kind of incentive to make Econet Mail more attractive in comparison to webmail systems like Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail. Assuming Econet Mail will not match feature rich Gmail on the usability front, an easy incentive to implement would be to make all trafic to econetmail.com free. Presumably, econemail.com traffic is local traffic anyway which doesn’t cost Econet much to move.