A subscription fee for email‽
Well, THERE'S your problem ... Never mind piddly bickering with Cupertino, you lot have bigger issues to address.
A truce is being threatened in the standoff between Apple's App Store and email imagineer Hey. With a new take on email, Hey has its own dedicated app and requires users pay a subscription fee to use the service. Apple was unimpressed, first demanding a cut of the company's revenues before seeming to threaten to remove the app …
Exchange ain't free, and neither is a corporate Google Mail.
There's definitely a lot of people willing to pay for stuff over-and-above the core email feature set.
In many ways Hey is an email filter service, and there are several other companies making money doing that.
I used to pay for Hotmail, back in the day.
People run their entire businesses on GMail and pay for business inboxes.
Exchange costs a fortune when you take into account the CALs, and more if you use it via the Cloud.
Hell, I pay for a domain name, a dedicated server, etc. for my own personal domains - just so I can collect or refuse email in the way I want (I own the entire domain, so I can just make up firstname.lastname@example.org and it will work... and then when some company spams the email I gave them, I know who they were, and I can just shut that alias down). Not to mention that, then, nobody knows where that email actually goes (it ends up in a popular webmail), but I can literally change the destination in seconds, or even copy every email to multiple places for redundancy. Oh, and I give out forwarded address to friends and family.
I haven't changed my domain in nearly 20 years, and have always had paid-for services behind that (the domain itself, the servers, etc.), and I have a complete archive of every email I've ever sent and received despite my "provider" / destination mailbox changing dozens of times over the year.
Personal users aren't the target - and aren't profitable at all anyway. Hotmail/GMail don't make any money out of personal users, except as a branding exercise and "consumer data". As you suggest, they can go anywhere and get a free email address. But private users serious about their email and the millions of business users... that's their market.
I too have my own domain name and use it in the way you've described, but some organisation's email relies on the email address actually existing (or so I was told) and so I'd never receive emails to my email@example.com
It doesn't happen with many organisations, though Patreon was another from whom I'd never receive emails to firstname.lastname@example.org until I emailed them to explain things.
I do the same but never have had this problem. It might be that i setup a catchall@(domain) email where anything unspecified goes into - I usually empty it once a week, sometimes 5 emails sometimes 500!
Anyone sending to anything at (domain) well it will get delivered but not read....
"All" emails at my domain exist - I don't have to create accounts/aliases.
It doesn't mean that they will go anywhere useful until I authorise them to, however. They get held in limbo/quarantine until I allow that alias to deliver mail onwards to the real inbox.
Catch-all on the domain, mailbox storage on the catch-all, forwarding only for listed aliases.
I literally do <companyname/code/made-up-on-the-fly-names>@mydomain.com and email always gets delivered (I have a 5-minute greylisting on new aliases, so obvious-made-up spam rarely delivers even into the holding mailbox).
The worst I ever have to do is override the greylisting if I'm bored of waiting the 5 minutes that they are asked to wait before retrying delivery.
Now imagine starting, I don't know maybe a barista-free, Covid-safe coffee business where you use your phone to order your coffee but take payment via contact-less credit card.
This is a great idea, people expect apps so you write an iOS & Android app and attempt to put them on the respective stores. Apple however turnaround and say "this isn't free you're charging offline" and demand a percentage of your company revenue.
Now what do you do? Ignore all Apple users or go to the media?
Personally I think big businesses get away with far too much of this kind of shit which is one of the reasons I really like what Joe Lycett has been doing:
"business where you use your phone to order your coffee but take payment via contact-less credit card."
Isn't that something that could be handled adequately by a website? Then no appstore is involved, so no cut.
To me there seem to be too many things that want one to use an app unnecessarily, when a website will do just fine; I do, however, think email is a worthy exception - I'm prepared to use an app for email that connects to any email provider that supports IMAP, pop3, SMTP, rather than use webmail.
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