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Opera Acquires Fastmail.fm 78

Posted by Soulskill
from the hopefully-for-more-than-a-song dept.
mattcsn writes "Opera Software just bought email service provider Fastmail.fm. Here's hoping that Opera uses a light touch and keeps the email service as unchanged as possible. From the article: 'FastMail has included a FAQ, in which it says that users who wish to not transfer their accounts over to Opera have to go into settings and indicate just that. Not acting upon the email the company sent out to its users or actively accepting the transfer will result in Opera assuming control over the mailbox and the account registration details. As to the reason for selling, FastMail says the market was getting increasingly competitive and that Opera's expertise in web browsers and especially the mobile market would help the company grow and take on the next big challenges in running and building an email service.'"
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Opera Acquires Fastmail.fm

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  • Opera Software (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Friday April 30, 2010 @02:00PM (#32047058) Journal

    For once I actually think the service will stay as it is. Opera's business isn't offering mail services, but their web browser contain mail functionality, and Opera has a good track record of a good company. What it seems to be is that they're looking to have a specific email provider in the browser, and buying Fastmail.fm is great for that.

    • by BigDXLT (1218924)
      Opera has offered mail services for a couple of years now. I haven't used it, but apparently it's there with my Opera account. This isn't new territory for them. It looks to me that Opera is buying the customer base and any technology/hardware/people/etc, is a bonus.
      • Opera has had operamail.com for many years, but as far as I know, it has not been linked with the My Opera social networking site. As you can see from its current state, the operamail service has not been maintained for years. According to the TOS on that site, it's been outsourced to Outblaze - another mail company I know nothing about. It seems obvious that this new acquisition of FastMail.fm will change that.

        (Disclaimer: I work for Opera, but I am not involved with our email products. The above represent

    • by Graff (532189)

      I hope the service stays as it is, I've been a Fastmail user for years and they've always been a pretty solid, inexpensive service.

      It does seem like a good marriage to me, with both sides bringing something positive to the table that shouldn't interfere with each other's core businesses. We'll see if Opera enables Fastmail to continue its excellent service or if they mess around with a good thing and ruin it.

    • I always do wonder how Opera makes money. They offer their web browsers for free now. How does Opera generate revenue?
      • by sznupi (719324)

        Same as many other free browsers which get part of their revenue from search engines + licensing fees from manufacturers who want to incorporate Opera tech into their products (Nintendo or some TV manufacturers for example); possibly also carriers including Opera Mini by default in handsets they offer.

    • Nope. This is the same clueless management team who couldn't compete on the desktop with Microsoft (while, of course, Firefox does, and commands ~30% market share), and whined to the EU to give them an undeserved placement on the desktop. Given their poor performance, I predict they'll screw up fastmail.
  • Seriously, why is Opera doing this?

    • by Ilgaz (86384) on Friday April 30, 2010 @02:43PM (#32047562) Homepage

      Amazingly clean, browser friendly interface along with superb IMAP support. That was why I originally subscribed to fastmail.fm and it went even better, not worse.

      There is a huge level of expertise in fastmail.fm and I believe they use best of the technology but it has never been some "nerd" service, they used the ideas to make it more friendly to newbie user. Of course, there isn't a chance you can compete with free and brands like "Google", so it could never get into place where it deserved.

      Hopefully, with Opera, it will be more known and used.

    • by catman (1412)
      One provision in the EU Data Retention Directive says that ISPs must store information about recipients of all e-mail that their clients send. Now if Opera can offer EU users a webmail service outside the countries implementing the DRD that's a good deal.
    • Opera already has a bunch of online services grouped together as "My Opera" - some browser-tied, such as server-side bookmarks & history with sync, or Opera Turbo; and some generic ones [opera.com], such as blogs. Given that Opera has a built-in email client, it would make some sense for them to also provide an email service to pair with that (so if you start Opera and click "e-mail", it'd offer you to create an Opera account if you don't already have one).

      As for "why" in a sense of how they will make money on that

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sznupi (719324)

      I would guess Opera Mini will get soon a nicely integrated creation process and access to email account; so Opera Software will jump on the badwagon of hundreds of millions of people getting their first email adress (people in so called "3rd world countries", having access to the internet only via fairly simple phones; phones on which Opera Mini is very popular, it certainly helps it being #1 mobile web browser). Opera can also offer it in nice package to mobile carriers, I guess.
      Who knows, perhaps next ste

  • in other news (Score:3, Informative)

    by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Friday April 30, 2010 @02:08PM (#32047170) Journal

    Tuffmail [tuffmail.com] remains cooler, and has not sold out. Happy customer for several years.

    • Tuffmail [tuffmail.com] remains cooler, and has not sold out. Happy customer for several years.

      Wow Google apps really prices out all these guys by a lot

      • Re:in other news (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Fnkmaster (89084) on Friday April 30, 2010 @02:42PM (#32047534)

        Yeah, I think I'll pass on giving a company that makes its money advertising access to all my private and business emails and stick with companies that make their money at offering email as a service. Tuffmail won't compromise your privacy because they'll go out of business if they do. Whereas Google owes you nothing.

        I was a Fastmail.fm customer for years until their huge outage a couple years back. I switched to Tuffmail, and haven't looked back. Great service, rock solid reliability, never a lost email, no more than a few hours of downtime over the last several years.

        I know of no other service that offers that kind of reliability for the very reasonable price Tuffmail charges.

        • by idontgno (624372)

          Yeah, I think I'll pass on giving a company that makes its money advertising access to all my private and business emails

          "Advertising"? What is this "advertising" you speak of?

          Gmail IMAP [google.com]. I don't see the ads because I don't use the webserver. And I don't send outbound mail. I don't need to; I use an ISP mailbox for primary mail. GMail is just a receive-only convenience as far as I'm concerned.

          • Gmail IMAP [google.com]. I don't see the ads because I don't use the webserver.

            Ads are less intrusive than the datamining which will occur regardless of whether you see the ads. To me, anyway.

            I use an ISP mailbox for primary mail.

            Do you mean that you use your ISP's SMTP server? What about when you're on the road?

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by idontgno (624372)

              So Google is aware that certain World of Warcraft accounts have expired. Gosh. Maybe they'll tailor the web ads they can't show me to offer me the non-existent opportunity to buy online gold. w00t.

              Anything that matters would be GPG encrypted. And nothing that matters goes to this account anyways.

              Do you mean that you use your ISP's SMTP server? What about when you're on the road?

              On the road == business. "Leisure travel" is for suckers. "Travel" and "Travail" are based on the same Latin root for damn good r

              • by Nutria (679911)

                Wow, the narrowmindedness overwhelms me.

                Not everyone is addicted to their Crackberry.

                Some of use actually find *occasional* access to personal email while on vacation to be rather useful, since some communication is better handled in writing than over a phone.

                And, last but not least, some people actually write letters home, and email is a great way to ensure that they arrive in a timely manner.

          • You specifically grant them (unless you pay) the rights to analyze your mail. It is up to them to use it whatever sense they want. Just because you don't see ads, it doesn't mean they are harvesting the personal mails.

            There are some people who really feel disturbed about that kind of policy and please don't bring up "what about your ISP root user?", I don't use my ISP's junk either. Never did.

            • by idontgno (624372)

              Yeah. So they can scan my email. The Gmail account is mostly throwaway stuff, so they can conclude from harvesting my email... that I get a trivial amount of throwaway stuff. Seriously. I think the Gmail account has handled less than 10 total emails. Ever.

              I don't use my ISP's junk either. Never did.

              Of course you are. You're using their routers, their CO equipment... that's no less (and no more) sacrosanct than the ISP's SMTP servers. 15 seconds with IOS and one Wireshark session and your emails would belo

              • I moved to VPN long time ago, in fact with Fastmail like services TLS/SSL support, they could never "wireshark" me.

                Of course, I keep Yahoo mail since 1998, I just didn't like Gmail's (and Google in general), "You get it free, now sell your soul to us" attitude. If there were more people like me, they would seek for another solution. Of course, people jumping up and down saying "spyware" when poor shareware tries to check for updates using Gmail, it doesn't matter to them.

          • by Fnkmaster (89084)

            Uhh, just because you don't see the ads doesn't mean they aren't using the data to advertise to you.

            You see Google ads all over the web. I'd be willing to bet a few pretty pennies that Google correlates information, knows who you are, and uses info about you to serve up ads, either on Google or via their AdSense ads all over the web. If they also host all your email, whether you are looking at it via the web or not, they can still use that data and provide it to advertisers.

            I'm not a tin foil hat type, an

        • Tuffmail won't compromise your privacy

          Yet IMAPS and SMTPS are nowhere to be found. Your ISP and any network you connect to your mail from can be spying everything. At least GMail is encrypted.

          • by Fnkmaster (89084)

            Dunno what you are talking about, Tuffmail supports TLS and SSL over a variety of ports [tuffmail.com], for both IMAP and SMTP traffic.

            All the email I ever send to or retrieve from Tuffmail has been over a secured connection.

            In fact, you can even manage your Sieve filters over an SSL connection.

            Additionally, their webmail client (which ain't so great, but I only use it in emergencies) uses HTTPS.

            This takes about 2 seconds to discover on their website - not exactly hidden information.

        • Google Apps is a paid service with no ads.
        • I was a Fastmail.fm customer for years until their huge outage a couple years back.

          When did they have a significant outage? I opened my account in 2004.

          Opera has, as far as I know, a fairly good reputation. I hope this works out well.

          • Re:in other news (Score:4, Informative)

            by Bronster (13157) <slashdot@brong.net> on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:04PM (#32052754) Homepage

            We put a lot our eggs in one basket for a bit - we had a 2Tb (yeah, I know - not so big by today's standards) RAID6 set die when 3 disks failed. This is before we had replication. It took about 2 weeks to get everyone back online as we streamed from backups as fast as we could!

            Our infrastructure is a lot more fault-tolerant now. We actually lost a RAIDset about 3 weeks ago when two drives failed within about an hour of each other (a RAID1 of 150Gb drives - it was about 80% rebuilt)

            Users didn't notice anything at all, but there were a couple of days when a subset of our users didn't have a realtime-replicated copy of their mail store as replication re-synced all their data to the new drives.

        • I like tuffmail's server-side spam policy [tuffmail.com] but how does it compare to Gmail's? Is it the same or more stringent - or can it be configured to be more stringent?

      • by haystd (145257)

        While google apps mostly works just fine and is certainly a good product, sometimes it can take awhile to convince google fix an issue when problems do occur.

        On the other hand, Tuffmail usually responds very quickly to issues.

    • Re:in other news (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Hurricane78 (562437) <.gro.todhsals. .ta. .deteled.> on Friday April 30, 2010 @02:55PM (#32047764)

      In other news, real geeks have their own root server with their own setup (including greylisting and amavisd with spamd and clamav).

      Please hand in your geek card, appliance user! ;)

      • In other news, real geeks have their own root server with their own setup (including greylisting and amavisd with spamd and clamav).

        Well, I was running an Alpha OpenVMS-based mailserver until I moved to Tuffmail, if that counts as unnecessary geekery. The server had uptime countable in years, but when it turned out that the hardware was underpowered and the electricity overconsumed for my growing needs, I had the choice of migrating to the nowadays turnkey Linux solutions people dare to call "geeky", or finding someone who could do it for me.

        And I say that as someone who loathes the mediocrity of most outsourcing efforts (Google, I'm lo

        • by awyeah (70462) *

          whereas the guys at Tuffmail seem to find it interesting enough to do it even better than I did.

          Not to mention the fact that effectively fighting spam as well as the big guys (Google, Postini, Tuffmail, Fastmail, etc) is a complete PITA.

          • Not correct. I had much better spam fighting than them.
            Setting it up, is pretty hard. But there is a really great and complete HOWTO on the Gentoo Wiki (something with “complete” and “mail” in the title).

            But when you are done with that, it just works. :)

    • by hkmwbz (531650)
      Sold out? What do you mean by "sold out"? And who cares what's "cool"? I want something that works, not some vapid "we are 'tuff', choose us" nonsense.
  • by Lambticc (563530) on Friday April 30, 2010 @02:40PM (#32047516)
    I suppose the poster didn't actually RTFA as you can either accept by clicking, accept by doing nothing or not accept by cancelling the account.

    What if I don’t want Opera to take over my account?
    Go to http://www.fastmail.fm/ [fastmail.fm] login to your account, then go to the Options -> Cancel Account screen and enter your password to confirm you want to cancel your account.

    • by iYk6 (1425255)

      The submitter was trying to incite opt-out anger.

      users who wish to not transfer their accounts over to Opera have to go into settings and indicate just that.

      Notice that not is in italics and "have to". The submitter wants to imply that fastmail is forcing users to opt-out of something new that they are doing, rather than just saying that Opera is going to be the new boss, and if you don't want to use a service run by Opera, you can cancel your account.

  • by Qwavel (733416) on Friday April 30, 2010 @02:42PM (#32047540)

    Fastmail has served me very well over the years, but a couple of years ago they stopped making improvements and adding new features.

    I wondered whether they decided that they wouldn't ever be able to compete with stuff like gmail and so they decided to stop investing and just milk it for whatever revenue they could get. This wasn't a terrible thing, mind you - the service kept working very well, but it did fall further and further behind. Gmail, in particular, is now offering a better service for free, so I doubt that fastmail was getting many new subscribers.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Fastmail does everything I could want it to do. All you really need out of an email provider is standards compliance. Any bells and whistles you need are provided by the client.

    • by Uksi (68751)

      I agree. One of Fastmail's big draws was its lightweight, fast-loading, reasonable web interface. Sadly, that interface has stagnated and is barely keeping up.

      I don't do local e-mail clients anymore (other than my smartphone). For any desktop e-mail needs, it's the web browser. So a lot of the value is in the web browser.

      For example, Gmail had autosave way-way before Fastmail (to protect against browser crashes). Fastmail, as a commerical e-mail provider, should've been jumping on copying that, to match the

      • I've deliberately subscribed (also "unsubscribed") some FastMail aliases to some botnet spammers lists. I never got a single piece of spam on these addresses. Subscribing to same lists with other providers produces a steady flow of spam. This has nothing to do with Sieve because most spam never reaches this stage at FastMail. With my Gmail address I don't need to subscribe: the spam finds its way to that address, and there's lots of botnet spam getting into Gmail. True, it's getting into the junkmail "folde

    • by Bronster (13157) <slashdot@brong.net> on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:08PM (#32052772) Homepage

      I guess you haven't seen what's going on behind the scenes. We haven't been quite so public, but personally I've been doing a LOT of work improving the Cyrus imap server that we run on. It's stability and the reliability of the replication system has improved enormously over the past few years, and most of that has been due to FastMail investing time (mostly mine :) ) in not only working on Cyrus itself, but in the monitoring and introspection tools we use to make sure that the replicas are truly up-to-date.

      We've almost fully rolled out UTF-8 support internally throughout our interface, which you'll notice if you have to deal with emails with more than one character set at any point. In the past we did everything in a user's default characterset, which was OK for most people but a pain for some.

      And heaps of minor fixes that most people don't ever see :)

    • Actually, FastMail have continued to improve things in lots of small ways. They may not have rewritten their web UI again ... but they have kept tweaking an already-excellent system.

      The FastMail team have an extraordinarily high level of clue. No wonder Opera got out their chequebook ...

  • I was just thinking about paying them for the excellent service I've had for free for the last 10 years. I've had a free account with them for that long, and have always been extremely happy. Never paid for an upgrade because I never needed it. I think I'll hold off now and see how Opera handles the takeover.

    • The acquisition FAQ says that they are excited to work on new webmail interfaces.

      However, I just don't get that spirit of insight and innovation from the Opera team or the Fastmail team. I don't think they really have the chops to look past gmail and think about what the next best e-mail experience is. I feel that they will forever be constrained by the old-school thinking of the underlying protocols.

  • I knew nothing about Opera acquiring them and there was nothing particularly wrong with fastmail.fm, but there was nothing particularly good about them either. I was hoping to get spam filtering good enough that I could have my phone alert me about new mail but even after months of training their spam filter it still let through far too much spam.

    I have resorted to just leaving Thunderbird running on a desktop computer to delete spam and manually checking my phone when I feel like it instead of having it ch

  • by osssmkatz (734824) on Friday April 30, 2010 @03:05PM (#32047892) Journal
    This isn't their first attempt at webmail. Operamail has been maintained and was their first attempt. They have no reason to shutter a webmail service. Their mail client is decent as well, and very similar to Gmail.
    • by Erik Fish (106896)

      Operamail is is just rebranded Outblaze (which was bought by IBM recently).

      I don't think Opera has much to do with the inner workings of it, although the interface did just get a revamp and all references to paid subscriptions were removed.

      Maybe next they'll up the quota?

  • That was quick.......
  • I'm hoping Jeremy is reading this thread. I've been a fastmail user for 9+ years. One selling point that Jeremy touched on in the previous article [slashdot.org] is that Fastmail has been bound by Australian privacy laws, which he describes as the most protective on the planet. Will Fastmail now be a Norwegian company bound by their laws instead? That would be my assumption. What change does this mean for privacy at Fastmail? This is not adressed in today's announcement or the FAQ.
    • by hkmwbz (531650)
      Actually, Norwegian privacy laws are among the most protective on the planet. But FM is now owned by Opera Software Australia.
    • by quineska (791747)
      I believe the Opera Australia division bought it, so its likely to bound by Australian privacy laws (maybe just under a different state jurisdiction?), but they are already moving staff to Norway [fastmail.fm].
      • by Bronster (13157)

        That would be me, hopefully :) Not forever, but for a while. Long enough for the kids to pick up a new language while they're still young and for me to learn all I can from the people there and teach them everything I know!

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