The band Depeche Mode has just launched its own free email service. So the time has come to ask whether this free email business is getting out of hand. Well, actually, no. It's merely an indication of how people are starting to find genuinely sophisticated ways of using the medium.
Free addresses have always been a very valuable venture for companies to undertake. Not only do the relevant web pages see a lot of traffic but they also build up an enormous database of email addresses. As more and more companies become tuned into what the Internet can do for them, they have begun to see the advantages of using methods like this to build up mailing lists.
Up until now, the sites have been the preserve of large computer organisations, but nowadays others, such as rock bands, are able not only to offer fans a desirable email address, but to build up an easily contactable database. David Bowie was one of the first rock stars to set up a paid-for Internet service, but free Internet access seems to be where it is these days and, before too long, I would guess, every band will have something similar. It will be interesting to see how each one tries to sell the concept on their web pages.
The designers of Depeche Mode's site have clearly thought about who they're aiming the site at, however. "Sorry for all this legal stuff but we have to agree a few things before we get going," the blurb says, to which the invited response is: "I accept. Now gimme my account."
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