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Microsoft Backs New Postal Technology

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Depending on how much you trust the current government that likes to tap phones and secretly search your houses, an electronic form of paper mail that you can receive anywhere, anytime might be a good thing. At least you won’t to worry about anthrax.

 Microsoft Backs New Postal Technology
Microsoft Backs New Postal Technology

Microsoft shed light today on its partnership with Seattle-based Earth Class Mail, a company that specializes in making physical paper mail available to customers when and where they want it.

The service scans both sides of the envelope and, if the recipient desires, the document inside, to be viewed via an assigned electronic mailbox similar to a PO box (that was their comparison, not mine – you might also compare it to, I don’t know, email).

The technology is based on Microsoft’s .NET platform and its proprietors have three aims: to reduce cost while increasing profitability for national postal services; to make physical mail faster and more convenient; and to build a new direct mail advertising system, complete with behaviorally targeted video advertising.

"Postal mail is one of the last forms of analog communications, where you have to be in a certain place to receive it," says Ron Wiener, CEO of Earth Class Mail. "Our Earth Class Mail service is doing for mail what the mobile phone did for telephone calls."

Mail is imaged in full color and, if the recipient asks, scanned for reading. The recipient can also order it recycled, shredded, transferred, archived, forwarded, et cetera.

Wiener says the service appeals to customers either without permanent addresses or who travel frequently. They’re also pitching to post offices everywhere.

"They’re seeing that if they make our solution available nationwide to anyone with an Internet connection, they can deliver mail at much less cost," says Wiener.

Earth Class Mail says costs for physical mail is getting higher for post offices while profits diminish, especially in an era of high fuel costs and increased digital communications. Postal services would also be able to sell related services such as document scanning, storage, destruction, and forward shipping to create new revenue streams.

Microsoft also plans to make available an Outlook plug-in that adds a postal service logo to the interface for guaranteed secure sending of documents. "Post offices are excited about the prospect of an Outlook plug-in and integration with the major Web mail vendors," says Wiener.

Wiener also spoke of creating "a hybridized model that combines the best of search engine advertising models, which provide marketers with a lot of customer information, with the best of direct mail advertising models."

The model he mentions takes note of direct mail that is deleted and mail that is read in order to develop advertising tailored to the recipient’s specific interests.

"Assuming we have permission to observe their actions, we might see, for example, that a certain customer is in the market for a luxury car and allows in ads for Lexus and BMW and Mercedes," said Wiener.

Microsoft Backs New Postal Technology
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