The curious case of Postbox

Whilst working through some Gmail/IMAP/Thunderbird issues a while back, a reader left a comment with a recommendation to check out Postbox, an email client which amongst other things bills itself as “an awesome alternative to Thunderbird”.

As far as I can tell, Postbox is actually a Thunderbird fork, wrapped up in a non-free license with attendant commercial licensing terms and a fraction of the platform support. You get Mac and Windows, and some vague mutterings about demand potentially influencing a future Linux version. UI prettiness aside, a fair number of the advertised goodies seem to have their origins in recent Thunderbird releases, such as improved Gmail support and cloud storage service provider integration. So that’s some of the uniqueness of Postbox already gone.

Regarding the licensing, one of their blog entries entices users to switch to Postbox, highlighting Google’s purchase and subsequent shutdown of the much loved Sparrow email client. Considering Google could just as well purchase Postbox any day of the week they choose, Postbox users depending on proprietary functionality offered by the application would be just as much up shit creek, with no community support in the case of an acquisition and closure.

Licensing and duplication of features compared to Thunderbird notwithstanding, you’d probably expect to get some premium support for the cash shelled out for Postbox, right? Actually, you don’t get any support. That’s right, none. If you look at the Postbox support FAQ, they’ll tell you to read the manual, read Mozilla’s support forums (what?), Google the issue (what the hell??), and at the end of all that:

“Please note that we do not offer one-on-one support offerings to new users at this time. All support efforts are currently dedicated towards providing better documentation and self-help solutions so that our users can more quickly find the answers they need.”

You’d think personalised support would be close to the top of the list of desirable features for any commercial deployment, but apparently the folks at Postbox see it differently…

To recap: proprietary license and associated risks, not free, limited to two operating systems, most features already present in Thunderbird, and no actual support. What are the advantages of this application again? And is Postbox just hanging around in the hope of cashing in with an acquisition itself?

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2 thoughts on “The curious case of Postbox

  1. realraven2000Axel Grude

    Regarding support I must say that when they started out their support for Addon-Developers was quite good, but in the last 12 months they did not answer any emails. Not even when I offered a completely new Add-on (quickFilters) which I made compatible after supporting SeaMonkey and Thunderbird for a long while. One would think that they would value a larger choice of Add-Ons on behalf of their users, but it seems at this stage they are just flogging the licenses. They did not even bother to add quickFilters to their Add-Ons page. (http://www.postbox-inc.com/extensions)

    It makes me think they probably do not read their emails anymore, which doesn’t bode well for any future users.

    Reply

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