After xtra: Which email should you use?

It may seem surprising, but it seems a few Xtra Mail customers are unsure of what to do, now they have been stung with the transition. Perhaps Telecom will spring for some cash, but I’d not be surprised if many xtra!mail customers want to leave, but do not know where to go.

Surprising because you’d think that everyone out there would know about GMail, Hotmail, dot mac and Yahoo!mail.

Unsurprising because, well, these folk were (locked into) using an ISP for their email.

Here are three reasons why you should not use Telecom, or any ISP for that matter, as your email provider.

A: You lose the ability to easily move Internet Providers

If you move house, find a better broadband deal (e.g. TelstraClear over cable in Wellington ) or simply get frustrated at your Internet Service Provider (ISP’s) poor service, then you’ll either have to change your email address (the one all your friends know you by) or just live with the ISP that you have.

(I’ve had a address since 1996, and now have a multitude of email addresses from lots of sources. I now never use or even look at an ISP’s assigned email address. Regardless of what email address I am using the most, that Yahoo address is always going to be there.)

B: You tie yourself to a brand that has negative connotations

AOL was hugely instrumental in getting the internet spread throughout America. Unfortunately their service was expensive & shoddy, and they also tried to keep their customers in a walled garden. After a while an email address was a highly embarrassing thing to have, as their customers were clearly clueless about the internet.

Telecomms companies the world over have terrible reputations – mainly centered around poor infrastructure and poor service. AT&T is bringing down Apple’s karma with the iPhone, but at Apple is making pots of money out of the deal.

Don’t let your Telco’s bad karma bring down your personal brand.

(My first ISP was Demon, in the UK, Back in 1995. What a great name for an ISP, but unfortunately it took months for them to stop billing me after I left)

C: You miss out on the latest technology

In spite of the terrible handover, Telecom was smart in moving its customers over to Yahoo!’s mail platform. Yahoo! is a professional provider of massive web email services, while Telecom is, well Telecom.

There are a bunch of different web mail clients out there which internet providers can give you, but none can match the likes of Google, Yahoo! or Microsoft. Most of them look like they should have stayed in the 90’s.
So by setting yourself free from your ISP’s webmail you can experience webmail in Web 2.0 style, which is a whole new level of ease of use,

(I mainly POP into OSX Mail at home, and use Yahoo!Mail, & GMail for personal mail, and MS Outlook (which every corporate uses) for corporate mail.)

So which email provider should you use?

Dot Mac is expensive, has solid branding, but does tend to lag behind in technology. It is also IMAP, and not POPable, so I use it sparingly. The backup feature is good, but the mail is Not Recommended

Yahoo!mail is the grandfather here, and has both a nice ‘beta’ version and the ability to use a more basic model. That basic model’s great when I’m checking email over my phone or a dodgy internet cafe with aging computers. I pay a little bit to get a few features, including the ability to POP, and extra email addresses.

Hotmail – well I cannot really say. I’m not a fan of the brand myself, but others I respect swear by it.
No rating

But the best of the bunch is GMail – Google has simply come up with a better way to do email, it is free, and you can POP and SMTP.
Highly recommended

Going forward you’d back Google with gmail, and to a much lessor extent, Yahoo! to be the ones to keep the innovations coming.

Xtra customers are already with Yahoo! – should they stay there?

I have not seen the final product, but if the email is anything but a clean implementation of Yahoo!mail (i.e. no xtra branding) then I would jump ship. Anything else and you are losing out against points A: and B: above.

By jumping now, when there is plenty of confusion, you will at least be jumping when everyone expects change. You’l also avoid having to learn a new system.

I’d jump to pure, or, preferably, to gmail.

Published by Lance Wiggs


9 replies on “After xtra: Which email should you use?”

  1. It’s like seeing the light. “You mean, I can have an email address that is not provided by my ISP?. Really?? Cooool.”

    I’m gradually migrating from paradise (which, let’s be honest, is actually quite a cool domain name to have but which has AWFUL web access), to gmail. Over time, my contacts gradually “get” that I’m with gmail. There’s little point doing a hard switch, unless you have a desktop client that can’t handle a gmail account.


  2. I wouldn’t use Gmail, Hotmail, etc. as my give-out email address for the same reason, you’re tied to the service provider even if they do something that’s unacceptable to you, and don’t think that could never happen with Gmail. Register your own domain name and (if necessary) use forwarding to move the mail to the server of your choice, it’s the most future-proof way.


  3. I don’t like Gmail’s “better way to do email”. I want folders. And that is not the only important feature missing in Gmail.


  4. I use Gmail as my email service and Outlook as my email client. Email is forwarded from various other ‘old’ email addresses to my Gmail account. Also have set up second gmail account which I use for responding to internet enquiries where my main account might become compromised by spam. Outlook accesses both gmail accounts (read) and I select which gmail address I wish to use when sending email. Works brilliantly, not committed to any specific email supplier.


  5. Gmail can also pop other servers and pull the mail so you don’t even need to login to them directly or have forwarding setup


  6. I have found Gmail to be the best email service of them all and I have used nearly all of them. Another thing Gmail will do is allow you to access your domain name email right from Gmail which makes it look like you are replying using your domain. The other thing that makes Gmail better is the other free stuff that comes with it like “Picasa Web Albums” and “Google Documents”.


  7. Choosing and email provider for your children is also a tricky one. You do not want to saddle your children with an email address tied to an ISP, it is very unlikely that they will use that ISP when they leave home. Most children will go through the hassle of changing their email address from the one that their parents set up for them, particularly if the parent signs them up to one of the companies that specializes in email for children.

    I had the same issues with my children, so I created and email application that is a bit like Outlook (see post above), but has a much simpler interface. I’ve now made it available for others to use –



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