With effect from August 1, 2001,
123india.com will become the first Indian portal to
charge for its e-mail service, reflecting a trend that
other players could follow in a market where
advertising revenue is not supportive.
E-mail users would have to pay Rs
599 for six months or Rs 999 for a year. They will
also get a customised ‘mypage’ and a new calendar
service. Access to non-premium members would be
discontinued by July 22.
Though other horizontal portals
like rediff.com and indya.com have refused to divulge
their gameplan, dotcoms would have to look at business
models where they can cut costs and make efforts at
generating revenues to stay afloat. Having created a
large user base, they can no longer afford to provide
free e-mail service and pay for maintaining it. The
aim will be to bundle e-mail with other services which
would make consumers pay.
The US is seeing such a trend.
Early this month, USA.Net announced that users would
have to pay for e-mail from July 31. The model of paid
subscriptions is what AOL has built up so profitably
and which other net players are looking at actively.
123india.com has made the first
push in this direction in India. The company will
provide their members with special services like
gaming, on-line chess tournaments and one-to-one chats
with experts. With pressure on ad revenue, paid e-mail
is a superior way to keep the services reliable and
The portal plans to organise chats
with special celebrities for its users. Besides, it
will tie up with marketing firms for offline
promotions and making special discount offers to its
The company is offering a special
introductory pricing for all existing members who want
to upgrade to the premium membership. They will get
one month of extra access with the six-month package
and two months of extra access with the 12-month
package at no additional charge. The special offer
will only be available till July 22, 2001.