What If Email Was a Low Cost Airline?


I’ve been thinking a lot about how to stay on top of email. My inbox feels like it’s very ‘busy’ all the time. I’ve tried some of the zero-inboxy things and I kind of like some of it. But it’s all a lot of effort on my part. And it shouldn’t be. I want to make it everyone else’s problem.

So I started pondering solutions and I chanced upon a metaphor that I liked. And then I stretched it way beyond it’s natural breaking point.

  • What if email was like air travel?
  • What if our inboxes were like airports?
  • We need email traffic control!

Or alternatively we could start behaving like EasyJet or RyanAir.

If we did…

  1. Different email origins would have different prices. Makes sense doesn’t it? Emails from our friends would be FREE for them to send (excluding taxes), emails from other people may cost them far more.
  2. If you send emails at peak times / or expect last-minute responses that’d definitely cost you top dollar. Whereas if you’re prepared to send an email months in advance (during an email promotional period) you could get it through much more cheaply.
  3. The heavier the email the more you pay. You’d get a ‘standard’ baggage amount (perhaps a few lines) – anything more you’d pay a hefty surcharge.
  4. Excess baggage. If you want to send any attachments that’s going to cost you a handling fee. And if your attachments are too big or can’t be opened properly you may have to pay extra-extra.
  5. Online check in. Please inform the recipient in advance when you’re intending on sending an email so they’ve got a bit of advance warning. If you don’t you’ll have to pay a little bit extra. OK?
  6. Priority check in. Just like with budget air travel you can pay extra to get on board first. For a ‘premium’ fee you can get to the top of the inbox first.
  7. Insurance. Worried about email not getting through? If you don’t get a response you can make a claim in writing. And you’ll be guaranteed to get the response you should have got in the first place. If you don’t require insurance you just have to deselect the box before you send your mail.

In my new world it’d be very reasonable to send emails. A matter of just micro-pence. I know people have talked about paying to send email before. But I think this really is the future.

I guess I’m going to have to take this to Google to get it implemented. I’ll let you know how I get on ;-)

[Update: Stupidly I forgot that tounge-in-cheekness doesn’t always translate well into blog posts. I don’t really think that charging people to receive their emails would be a good idea at all. Just in case you were worried.]

[BTW I have actually got serious ideas for a couple of relatively simple little things that could be added to an email client to make them better, so if anyone who works in that side of things give me a shout]