One of my very first email applications on the Mac, in the early days of the internet, was Eudora. It was fast, free, simple, elegant, and everyone used it.
Whatever happened to Eudora? I honestly thought Eudora died and disappeared. Not so. But is Eudora alive and well? For some, yes. For most Mac users, no.
I am of the opinion that choice is important. There are not as many email applications today as there once were, Mac or Windows.
Mac OS X comes with Apple’s capable Mail app. I switched from the very capable Microsoft Entourage many years ago. All email apps have their pluses and minuses, quirks, and can’t live without features.
But free is good. Eudora used to be free, Mac or Windows. Qualcomm somehow acquired the rights to Eudora, now at version 7.1 for Windows users, but only 6.x for Mac users. An 8.0 version in beta.
Basic Eudora is free and comes with a bunch of features including IMAP, WebWords, an importer and Address Book sync, a bunch of filters and formatting buttons, virus protection. And advertising. That’s for the free version.
Eudora Paid comes with SpamWatch, no advertising, and a few other features that long time Eudora users like, but probably don’t do much for the average Mac user hanging on to the free Mail, or Microsoft Entourage.
Oddly enough, Eudora is going open source. Arguably the most popular of the open source email projects is Mozilla’s Thunderbird. It’s mature, runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux PCs, is feature laden, and priced right.
How can Eudora survive when most email applications are free? Apparently, not very well. Eudora has gone open source, too, with the Penelope Project.
Eudora 8 for Mac users is open source, runs on PPC Macs or Intel Macs, and is based upon the open source architecture of Mozilla’s Thunderbird.
Somehow or another Eudora’s developers hope to complement Thunderbird, rather than compete with it. It’s tough to compete with free, especially email.
Mozilla claims that “Qualcomm is committed to both preserving the Eudora user experience and to maintaining maximum compatibility… with Thunderbird.”
With a number of free, feature laden, highly competent email applications available for all PC platforms—Mac, Windows, Linux—why bother with tacking Eudora’s name onto the free and open source Thunderbird?
What are the economics? It’s apparent that Qualcomm hasn’t done well with the advertising or paid models of Eudora. Again, it’s difficult to compete with free unless you bring something exciting, different, more valuable to the table.
Does Eudora have anything of value, besides a long history and a popular name among long time internet users? I don’t think so.
Eudora is the rusty 1957 Chevy of internet email applications. Classic. Durable. But requires effort to keep going. Phrases such as “Wow! What a beauty!” are replaced by “You use what for email?”
Every dinosaur needs to be buried. If anything, to provide nutrients for the ground, or eventually to show up as oil for the gas guzzling generation of the future. Or, to be placed in a museum for future generations to view, but not touch.
Eudora was once a great little email application which now suffers from feature bloat and neglect. Yes, there are many thousands of Eudora users. There are many thousands of Mac OS Classic users, too.
We’re already moving rapidly into the 21st century, and Eudora, despite a following and modest maintenance development, is a relic of the 20th century, a rusty, hulking 1957 Chevy, ready for the junk yard, or the tender loving care of a careful restorer. I suspect the former, not the latter will be the result of Eudora going to Thunderbird.