mBox Shakes Out Freeloaders

[Sydney, AUSTRALIA] Unified messaging provider mBox has closed down its free consumer services,
planning to charge users $20 per year to continue using its basic services.

mBox previously provided a Web-based e-mail and voicemail service free of
charge, supported by an advertising model, with potential upgrade to premium
(paid) services. Users who do not wish to pay will still have access to
e-mail, but will have their voicemail numbers canceled.

mBox managing director Barksdale Brown said the shift will alleviate
concerns from the company’s current and prospective corporate clients that
mBox will compete with them in the unified messaging retail market. He said
the move would nearly halve the mBox monthly burn rate to $50,000.

mBox has signed up over 130,000 users to its service since its launch in
January 2000. The cost of providing non-paying users with telephone numbers
represented its single largest fixed expense, at $3.85 per number per year.

The company has signed five enterprise agreements including with i7 Limited,
the Seven Network’s online and broadband business. Under the mBox enterprise
offering, mBox generates fee revenue on a per user per month basis.
Corporate customers can re-brand the products and bundle them for sale to
their own clients of for use internally.

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