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Eudora maker offers free email

Qualcomm announces plans to launch free, Web-based email powered by WhoWhere technology, sources say.

Qualcomm (QCOM), developer of Eudora mail software, announced plans to launch free, Web-based email powered by WhoWhere technology.

Eudora Web-based email will be available through the Web on January 1, the company said. Qualcomm's entry, reported yesterday by CNET's NEWS.COM, is expected to have a major impact on the burgeoning free email market because of the company's market clout. Eudora has 18 million users worldwide, while some 7.5 million people are registered for WhoWhere's Web-based services.

Free email already is provided by the likes of Hotmail, Juno, NetAddress, MailCity, Yahoo (through its buyout of Four11), and Excite (also through WhoWhere), among others.

As previously reported, America Online also is gearing up to launch Web-based email that will allow AOL subscribers to send and receive their email from the Web without AOL software. The deal comes amid news that Hotmail has held talks with Microsoft about a possible equity investment, another sign of its popularity. (See related story)

"Eudora Web-mail is a free Web-based email account which allows you to access your email from any computer in the world with a browser," says the posting on the Web site. "We can offer this service free to our users because we are entirely supported by the advertising banners you see at the top of each Eudora Web-Mail page, and by a one-sentence tag line attached to the end of all messages you send."

The free email also will include features such as an address book, attachments, vacation reply (to respond to incoming email while the user is away), and signature. It contends the email is "safe and secure," with features such as passwords. It also gives users a permanent email address.

Users who apply also are requested to fill out some personal information, such as their hobbies, marital status, and income level. According to the registration information: "User agrees that both Qualcomm and WhoWhere may disclose to third parties certain aggregate information contained in users' registration applications. Neither Qualcomm nor WhoWhere will disclose any individual user's name, address, email address, or telephone number without such user's prior written consent."

The free email works on both Netscape and Microsoft browsers, according to the Web site posting.

According to a report from the Electronic Mail & Messaging Systems, the email box count worldwide was 150 million as of August. The free email sector showed growth of 3.6 million mailboxes in the second quarter of this year, according to the same report cited by Yahoo when it bought Four11 in October.