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Friday, 30 April 2010 21:47

Opera acquires Aussie IMAP email provider FastMail.fm

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Norwegian web browser player Opera Software has acquired Australian Web-based and IMAP e-mail provider FastMail.fm. According to Opera, the acquisition will enable the company to expand its current messaging product portfolio and deliver cross-platform messaging to a wide range of devices, including computers, mobile phones, TVs and gaming consoles.


The brainchild of Melbourne-based dot com wunderkind Jeremy Howard, Fastmail was one of the first email products on the market in the early 2000s that enabled users to integrate their familiar desktop email clients, such as Outlook Express, with web-based email made popular by Microsoft's Hotmail, Yahoo Mail and Gmail.

Howard, who at the age of 19 was earning in excess of $200,000 at the Australian offices of McKinsey and Co while still a student, developed Fastmail because he identified the need for users to take their email on the road using familiar POP like email clients.

In his early years, Howard ran the Fastmail email business from a rented apartment in the Melbourne bayside suburb of Port Melbourne, while simultaneously running another software business he developed involved with the insurance industry.

For a $40 per year subscription, Fastmail users could get a limited data allocation and an account that enabled them to use a web-based client which could be synchronised with their desktop client of choice.

At the time, Howard told this writer that he was making a lot more money from his insurance software than Fastmail but there was little doubt that Howard seemed more at ease with the shorts and flip flop lifestyle of a dot com entrepreneur than that of suit and tie attired insurance software business tycoon.

The advent of Gmail, with massive free data allocations of 1GB and more, limited the growth of Fastmail but it still maintained a loyal band of users around the world.



FastMail.fm, from its home base in out of the way Melbourne, had gained a reputation for responsiveness and reliability. According to Opera, itself a home town Norwegian success story, Fastmail already offers some of the most advanced Web-based e-mail platforms for consumers and small business customers and has been lauded for its approach to security, focus on innovation, and support for open, interoperable standards.

Since the release of Opera 4 in 2000, Opera's desktop browser has included its own innovative e-mail client. Following this acquisition, Opera will be able to offer a consistent e-mail experience across all products. Opera currently has more than 50 million users of its desktop browser and more than 55 million users of Opera Mini, a mobile Web browser that works on almost all handsets available today.

"The newest generation of Web users will discover the Web through a mobile device. Having world-class messaging capability alongside a rich and compelling Web experience is essential. By combining forces, Opera and FastMail.fm can offer messaging on any device. This will enhance the value Opera provides to consumers, while assisting our operator partners in reducing customer churn," says Rolf Assev, Chief Strategy Officer, Opera Software.

Opera currently has about 1% of the global browser market and focuses on creating niches in the mobile browsing space and appealing to users by offering what it claims is the fastest and most responsive browsing experience.


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Stan Beer

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Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 35 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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