Mailbox has garnered a lot of attention since it rolled out.  My concern from day 1, as has been with many a similar service, is how is it being paid for?  These startup services rollout free with no plan in place to make money.  Some of these startups are gunning to be bought out or "funded" by venture capitalists, and others are hoping for bright lights and a revelation on high to show them the secret to success (here's looking at you Twitter).  The truth is they lack a plan to become financially solvent and while cloud computing is cheaper then the alternative, it's still expensive.  It's no wonder then that these startups belly-up or disappear into the annals of the world wide web. I've been particularly upset about two as of late, Posterous a year ago and more recently Sparrow. In both of these cases the buyouts were about grabbing talent and had nothing to do with building the product.  In the end the consumers got screwed by dreams too big to pay be paid for.

So I can't help but wonder what will happen with Mailbox.  An announcement was just recently made that cloud-sync kingpin Dropbox has bought them. I should disclose that I do have a Mailbox account and that I have not completely bought into their way of doing Email just yet.  I'm not trying to knock it, it's just a dramatic change from the way I've managed my inbox and I am still adjusting.  I'm giving it a shot though.  I should also disclose that I am huge fan of Dropbox.  Nonetheless I can't help but wonder what Dropbox's purpose is in buying Mailbox.  To the best of my knowledge there is no income stream for Mailbox, only what I am speculating is an ever-growing EC2 bill.  The product models are completely different too.  So is it a talent grab?  It doesn't seem so, at least Dropbox's post does not give that indication.  Nonetheless I am skeptical...

I wouldn't count on Mailbox being eternally available. I hope I'm wrong, but I feel like we've learned all too recently not to depend on free cloud services for the kitchen sink.  Our data needs to be portable and we as consumers need to be startup-proof.  That means go ahead and use a service like Posterous, but make sure you can walk away from it when they shut it down.  And if they don't offer data portability, don't sign up.  With services like Mailbox that augment the way you do things, just make sure you can still function when they are gone.  In short:  D__on't put all your eggs in one basket, be startup-proof.

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