Email is Dead, Long Live Email

You’ll find a low rumbling in the hacker community about how email is broken 1, 2 (or not broken 3, 4). Email is still the main communication medium on the planet besides Facebook, SMS, and the web’s attempts to change that. The problem is that it is still relatively unsecure, it is generally heavily filtered at the server and local level, and can’t do advanced (yet simple) things like embed video.

Attempts to *fix* email have resulted in new platforms like Google Wave or Facebook Messages, but people are so heavily invested in their current email readers (Outlook, Gmail) that making a new platform for email is not really wanted. So what I’m proposing is to make new systems for the people who DO want it and NOT for the masses.

I’m a web marketer. I want to be able to send out cool emails. I want my clients to be able to send out cool emails too. I define “cool” as being able to easily create and manage your own custom email signatures and be able to send active content like embedded videos (a la BombBomb email). This can be done through various services and programs today, but it’s piecemeal.

I’m envisioning creating a marketing portal like Salesforce.com for managing your online marketing. It’d be a cloud platform for people to login, send marketing messages, add to or edit their blog, manage their marketing message response rate, and other CRM-like functions from a marketing-centric side of things – instead of a sales-centric side of things. Maybe it’s not needed. It’s just an idea.

Read about my other idea of creating a reputation service for the Internet.

On Developing Our Professional Email Signature Product

Recently, like Seth Godin suggested, we started looking for way to “redefine a service as a product”.

We’ve found that custom HTML email signatures was a way to use our web design and email management skills to create  an introductory product that’s great for a wide variety of clients. Our typical clients are independent business owners or non-profits who can make their own marketing decisions, but now we have a product that can help franchisees or real estate agents who don’t or can’t have their own web site, but do have control over their email signature.

Email signatures provide a way to offer increased interaction, coupons, calls to action, and integration with review sites, business directories, social media sites, and home pages. They can be inserted into many of the major web based email programs as well as traditional email clients. The images can be hosted on your web server or ours.

We’ve considered branding for the email signatures can range from “mini-web sites at the end of your email” or “custom HTML email signatures”. When we do keyword research for doing our SEO, keyword terms like, “professional email signatures,” “email signatures for business”, and others come up so we might use those.

On our home page, we currently have a huge image of the email signatures product with a giant button that says, “Learn More”. This is in response to feedback we got about our old page design which lacked a central call to action. In the future, we’d like to have that central image and text swap out in what’s called a “content slider”.

This is a new product for us and we’re still doing customer development and looking for feedback. We’ve done many customer interviews and implemented a lot of what we heard in order to continue to iterate the product. The end product may change from where it is now, but so far, it’s shaping up to be something people really like.

How to Auto-Forward Text Messages to Email in Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Palm Pre, and the iPhone

It may seem counter-intuitive to some to forward a SMS message to an email address when most devices that can receive text messages can also receive email, but sometimes you don’t have access to your phone, yet you still need access to the text messages. This could happen if you lose your phone, leave your phone at work or in the car, or simply not be able to bring it to work or some other restricted location.

I personally started using it when my customers started texting me long requests that I’d have to retype or manually forward to get into a usable form on my computer. It could also be useful for those of you who run a business on the side and want to keep your day job. You can use tools like this to forward text messages as emails to a personal assistant or your partner. For whatever the reason, you’re probably here looking for the answer, just like I was before I found the solution.

Below are solutions for how to auto-forward your text messages to email for Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Palm Pre, and Apple iPhones.

Android Phones

TextBusy by Gatehill Software – $1.23

I use TextBusy, which works great. It requires you to use a Gmail account to forward the emails so all of the SMS messages will be coming to you from whatever address you specify. Whatever bad reviews you see out there from August – disregard as those have been fixed by now as you can see by the latest review on September 15th. For $1.23 it’s well worth the money. It currently has 9 reviews on the Android Market.

txtForward by Electric Pocket – $3.19

txtForward txtForward automatically sends a copy of your SMS text messages to any email address you specify, for backup or as a handy way to get your messages at your desk.
Send your SMS messages automatically to any email address, and easily back them up or read them from your desktop email client. It’s available for BlackBerry and Windows Mobile too. It currently has 38 reviews on the Android Market.

SMS2Gmail by EireApps – FREE

SMS2Gmail forwards SMS and missed call information to Gmail account. This application allows you to forward your SMS messages and missed calls to a user defined gmail account, and you can activate it remotely. If your phone is at home for example and you are not, send it an SMS from a friends phone or webtext and activate this service. It currently has 57 reviews on the Android Market.

Blackberry Phones

SMS Auto Forward to Email Pro by Value Apps – $3.99

SMS Auto Forward to Email lets you forward all incoming SMS messages to an email address automatically. Very handy if you keep changing your handsets or like to delete your text messages. Keep a log/backup of all your text messages. Once installed and running, you don’t need to do anything. The app runs in the background and send every incoming text message automatically to an email address of your choice.

txtForward automatically sends a copy of your SMS text messages to any email address you specify, for backup or as a handy way to get your messages at your desk.
Send your SMS messages automatically to any email address, and easily back them up or read them from your desktop email client.

Windows Mobile

txtForward automatically sends a copy of your SMS text messages to any email address you specify, for backup or as a handy way to get your messages at your desk.
Send your SMS messages automatically to any email address, and easily back them up or read them from your desktop email client.

Palm Pre

SMS Auto Forward/Reply by Grabber Software

NOTE: This app does not work on webOS 2.x. SMS Auto Forward/Reply forwards text messages to the mobile number of your choice (number must be in your contacts). You can also send an auto-reply message to the sender. Your phone must be turned on and in coverage for this application to work. While this isn’t text-to-email, it may be the best a Palm Pre user can get. If you know of another app for Pre’s let us know in the comments.

Apple iPhones

Unfortunately, there are no apps to auto-forward text message from the iPhone (this is an opportunity for app developers!). For iPhones using firmware 3.0 or higher, manual forwarding of SMS messages is a built-in feature. To manually forward a text message, simply:

  1. view the SMS text message you’d like to forward
  2. select EDIT at the top of the screen
  3. check off the message(s) you’d like to forward
  4. tap FORWARD at the bottom right of the screen

iSMS/weiSMS

For those using older firmware, there is a third-party application for the iPhone, iSMS/weiSMS, with which it is possible to send text messages to multiple individuals as well as forward text messages.

SMSD

SMSD is a free and easy to use iPhone SMS management application which lets you delete individual Messages, backup all message through mail, manually forward messages, and manually Send/Forward messages to multiple contacts.