Postful On Cell Phones

April 26, 2007

Many companies are working hard to release mobile versions of their applications. While we respect their labors, we don’t envy them. Luckily for us, Postful already runs on just about every cell phone out there.

If your phone supports e-mail, you’re set. Blackberries are a snap. Palm or Windows Mobile? No problem. Just send an e-mail and Postful will work its magic.

Most camera phones can send mms messages to e-mail accounts (just find out or set your phone’s e-mail alias and set is as Postful account alias).

But let’s say you’re on an older phone. SMS is still all you need. These instructions will vary slightly from provider to provider. For T-Mobile, send an SMS to 500 (Cingular is apparently 121) with the Postful address you wish to send to as the start of the message. Follow it with a space and type your message. As before, you’ll have to setup a Postful alias with your cell phone’s e-mail address (for T-Mobile, it would be yourphonenumber@tmomail.net).

It’s really that easy.

How would you use this? Snap a picture, add a quick comment, and mail it off to your grandmother. At the scene of an accident, capture the image and mail it to your insurance company (or yourself for a hard-copy) in one step.

But, as always, we expect to be surprised by the uses you come up with!

Printing Press

Print publishers are working to personalize the content they deliver to their subscribers. While they adjust from the top down, our users are creating personalized publications from the ground up. Mass customization is coming to the print industry from both directions, and it’s fun to see.

Wired ran a promotion last month asking readers to submit cover photos for their July issue. They’ll be producing 5,000 different covers from those photos. It’s an exciting experiment in reader interaction, but it falls short of what they describe as the “Holy Grail” of print media: personalized and targeted publication.

We saw another example of this with the issue of Reason where every subscriber received a personal edition with a satellite photo of their home on the cover. More intriguingly, Reason customized certain articles and ads based on the subscriber’s location.

I know from personal experience that this is an extremely difficult process. I spent a few too many nights sleeping on a print-shop floor working on the Reason cover. Despite the potential, it’s been hard to overcome the technical challenges. And efforts have been limited to the occasional test or promotion.

Postful’s users, meanwhile, are delivering extremely targeted publications at a very small scale. We already have users sending print copies of their blog articles to relatives who aren’t online. Some have automated this process with rss-to-email feeds or even compiled posts into mini-newsletters.

The potential for this is exciting. There aren’t too many steps from personal newsletter to small magazine. While the larger magazines work through the logistical intricacies of personalizing a product designed for mass runs of hundreds of thousands, the smaller ones can scale upward with a product meant from the start for individuals. Meanwhile, both can make use of the same web-based ad marketplace.

I don’t know whether the large magazines will adapt before the next generation of dynamic newsletters and magazines establishes itself. The one thing that’s certain is that the print world is changing. As I’ve said before, print isn’t dying, but the media apparatus built around it is. Print is just a delivery vehicle, one that is finally being incorporated into our digital life. We’re proud to have Postful play a part in that.

It will be fun to see how this develops as our users lead the way forward.

photo credit: Gastev

Those of us in software development effectively live in front of our computers. In turn, we design software to make it easier to interact using only a computer. In that process, we forget that most of the world runs on offline services and processes.

Most of these are shockingly inefficient.

The tools, methods, and patterns we’ve developed while building the structure of the web ecosystem could be an immense service to these areas. But, in order to apply these patterns, we need interfaces. Links to physical production tools, sensors, and physical tracking systems.

This is a hard task. It blends together skills in a number of areas and requires that companies be able to work across those boundaries seamlessly.

The benefit is that it allows the world of physical products and interactions to gain the richness of customization and efficiencies of the online realm.

Read the rest of this entry »

Some of the team was up at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco this week.

We discovered a few companies there that look mighty interesting. MAPLight is putting together a database and visualization tool to see the relationship between campaign contributions and votes. Swivel, a place to share your data, launched officially at the show. We’re excited by the possibilities. In the same way that online photo sharing makes it easy for bloggers to add photography to their posts, Swivel makes it easy to add data. The web just got smarter. Do I hear MAPLight/Swivel mashup? Yes I do!

Also caught a great presentation from ThinkFree, which unveiled APIs for embedding document viewers and editors in your own web applications. This could become the killer tool for Office 2.0. Suddenly applications that could only be imagined before become easy and practical. We can’t wait to give them a test-drive ourselves.

And there’s also this firm from Washington. They say they’ve got an OS. What was it called? Doors? Hinges? I forget.

For all of our users whom we met at the show, it was great saying hello and seeing you in person!

One feature request that has come up again and again in your feedback is the request to send mail from more than one e-mail address. We’ve heard from those of you who check different e-mail at home rather than at the office, and would like to use Postful from either place.

So we have launched a new feature. We call them aliases. Aliases are just a list of other e-mail addresses that you would like to send ground mail from.

Just log in, and click on Aliases under the Account menu. You’ll be able to create them there.

Alias Screenshot

You can also use aliases to set up a Postful account that your whole family can use. Just add your kids’ e-mail addresses as aliases, and they will be able to send mail, while you take care of the payments.

As always, we encourage everyone in the beta to kick the tires on this feature and let us know any changes you’d like us to make.

Cupcake
Well, Postful Private Beta is now officially one week old. I just wanted to say, on behalf of the Postful team: it’s been incredible.

First, I’d like to thank each and every one of you for your comments and your feedback. Positive or negative, criticism or compliments, please keep them coming. It’s been exhilarating and insightful. Talking to you guys after a long, hard slog of development has really reminded us of why we love this business.

Now, there have been lots of feature requests, and we’ve got plenty of wonderful things on our development docket. For the next couple of months, expect a major new feature from us once every couple of weeks. And, of course, stay tuned to this blog, where we’ll be making all our announcements.

Postful in the News

April 10, 2007

Shameless, I know, but I thought I’d put up some links to early discussions of the Postful beta. This is a very exciting phase for any startup, as you begin to get broad feedback from early users and reviewers. Suddenly, the hypotheticals about what’s important and how people will respond are replaced by very direct feedback.

In any case, I’d love to put up links to all the sites that have pointed to us, but I’ll content myself with giving you a few samples: