Oddpost: Odd Idea or Odd Implementation?

I was reading about Gmail the other day and, in the article, the author mentioned another new Web application that was attempting to make itself more like a platform application, as well. This app is called Oddpost and at first it looked quite intriguing.

So I went and checked it out and found out a bit more about it. It’s a Web application for mail and news (NNTP and RSS). You can access your mail from anywhere that has a Web browser (sort of… we’ll come back to this in a minute). It requires no ActiveX or Java; its just a straight DHTML application. From the screenshots, it appears that they did a really good job of making the Web application appear much like a platform app. This allows you to (ostensibly) access your email and news from anywhere with an Internet connection.

However, there are some issues. The Oddpost application only runs on Internet Explorer (making it a non-starter for me and everyone I work with). As well, it integrates mail, news and calendaring, but so do most other modern platform MUAs. You can access you email and news from anywhere with an Internet Explorer browser, yes, but not with anything else, and certainly not with most (if not all) PDAs. I would imagine that a lot of people have PDAs now and that people who travel would prefer to read email through their PDA and not have to wait in line for an hour to sit in front of the hotel’s Windows 95 terminal.

The two big problems I have with Oddpost are thus: search and space. Oddpost can apparently only search the subject lines of emails, a critical drawback. Without search, you don’t have a real MUA these days. I’m already spoiled by Gmail’s combination of superb search and laissez-faire classification schema. As well, with only 50MB of space, even if they had search, you still have a serious problem: the tools to manage tons of email, but not enough space to actually have tons of email. In a sense, they have the opposite problem that Yahoo! Webmail has.

Hopefully, Oddpost will invest in search and a big SAN and jump past Gmail as the best Web-based MUA out there. For $30 a year, they ought to come up with something…