Mailbox needs a monetizaton strategy. For my sake. And yours, if you use the app.
Right now, Mailbox, an iPhone email app that actually does live up to the hype (more on that in a future post), is free. The app is free, and so is the service, even though the app requires server infrastructure, and even though Mailbox has something like 10 bajillion people either using it, or waiting in line for it.
Perhaps the folks at Mailbox have a monetization plan of charging when it debuts on other platforms. Perhaps Orchestra, the developers behind Mailbox, plan to offer additional paid features in the future.
It doesn’t feel that way, though. I haven’t seen one mention of a monetization plan, which leads to a sneaking and scary possibility about how Orchestra plans to make money: Orchestra has developed such an awesome email app, out of hopes that Mailbox gets acquired.
If that’s true, why is that bad? The web is littered with the carcasses of promising startups that were purchased, only to be absorbed and shuttered (or ignored). Sparrow was the last email client destined to be great, but it has languished since its purchase by Google. Twitter purchased Posterous, a blogging site, and now is in the process of shutting it down. Apple purchased Lala, and then proceeded to shut it down.
There are some exceptions. For example, Apple purchased Siri, and temporarily shut it down, only to bring it back as a central part of iOS. Of course, when Apple bought it, announced development on Blackberry and Android came to an end. Some original Siri features were missing, too.
So please, Mailbox, charge us. Lots even. Just stick around.