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Amazon email review: AWS WorkMail vs Gmail vs Outlook

Scott Carey | June 27, 2016
Amazon's WorkMail app is just like every other email service on the web

AWS WorkMail: Getting started

AWS brought the WorkMail app out of preview for general European users, via it's Ireland region, in January. 

To get an email domain your company must be registered with Amazon Web Services (AWS). 

Once registered, log into the console and make sure to change your region to Ireland in the top right hand corner (we were automatically assigned to Oregon) and select WorkMail from the services tab or the Enterprise Apps section.

You can create a new organisation and personalised email domain in the cloud, or connect the WebMail service up with your on-premises directory to enable existing users to access the platform.

Setup takes around 20 minutes (I am now the proud owner of the email if you are starting from scratch and not migrating an existing directory. Mailboxes will be encrypted with the Service Default Key in your account. Later, you can manage your organisation by adding mail domains, users, groups and resources, and mobile device policies.

AWS WorkMail: Pricing

Amazon WorkMail is the cheapest of the three main options, priced at $4 (£2.80) per user per month, which includes 50GB of storage per user. This can be bundled with WorkDocs for an added $2 per user per month. 

Gmail apps have just two pricing tiers, base for £3.30 per user, per month, and premium at £6.60. Base offers 30GB storage, HD video meetings via Hangouts, 24/7 support and bundles in Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. Premium comes with unlimited data storage and advanced admin controls.

Outlook comes as part of an Office 365 subscription, which has six tiers, all of which aredetailed in this breakdown, with Essentials starting at £3.10 per user per month.

AWS WorkMail: Competition

Microsoft offers cloud-based Outlook apps for mobile devices and an online version of your inbox via an Office 365 log-in. Yahoo and Gmail have business email options that users of the consumer products will be familiar with.

In reality most users are happy to use the mail app on their phone by plugging these mailboxes in, such as Apple Mail. Android users will typically use the pre-loaded Gmail app on Android. This means new email platforms face an uphill battle to acquire new customers.

Dropbox acts as a warning to companies trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to email. The document storage and collaboration company acquired the popular Mailbox app for a reported $100 million in 2013, but killed the company off just two years later.

In his excellent piece on the subject The Verge's Casey Newton said: "The market for consumer productivity apps, which spurred companies like Dropbox and Evernote to multi-billion-dollar valuations, has proven to be mostly a mirage. Businesses are increasingly happy to buy software for their employees; people are often loath to buy software for themselves. And for all it did right, Mailbox never became anything more than an alternate user interface for other companies' email servers. There was a lot of intelligence in it, but no money."


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