The Escapist Interviews 3D Mailbox

Logan Frederick

New member
Aug 19, 2006
The Escapist Interviews 3D Mailbox

RS: Regarding the technical problems encountered, the core problem was that the ones who were unable to install it lacked shader support in their video cards. In addition, there are a couple of flavors of Vista that are, at the moment, causing a crash that we are working to correct. Finally, if you don't accept the default 3-D option to force low textures, then you will end up using a lot of system memory to render the high textures. This is a function of the game engine we use and not of 3D Mailbox itself, and is a feature and not a technical problem. Interestingly, we got picked up by the media very quickly, as we only went live a bit over a month ago. The Vista problem is something that has only come to light through rapid and widespread usage.

I think it's amusing that critics have picked up on and twisted the obvious, that we have gone in the opposite direction of thin clients by building something as audacious as a game engine inside an email client. To follow the same logic, you could consider Half-Life 2 an over-engineered version of Solitaire, because how much technology do you really need to entertain yourself? You could certainly use Pine to read email, but the goal of 3D Mailbox is not simply task-optimization: Its goal is to make you smile. There are many Solitaire and Pine fans who would consider Half-Life 2 and Halo 3 a "waste of valuable computer resources," but nobody is holding a gun to their head to use either. It's a matter of personal taste and preference, in the end.

Negative press gets a lot more attention than positive press. One Times of London writer called 3D Mailbox "genius," but nobody has heard about that. What gets headlines is the tabloid-style piece that a guest columnist wrote there, which was in turn spun into more headlines by a notoriously cranky Australian writing for Techcrunch. Add to the mix an American woman whose political correctness branded men and women in bathing suits and a fat spam avatar as moral outrage. And what you have on your hands is a lot of buzz. What we are talking about here are a handful of people with very specific agendas, namely driving media traffic.

We also have a number of innovative features, such as the fully-integrated and user-friendly SpamBayes spam filter. We also introduced email-based IM/Chat and email status tracking (where you can see, if you and the remote party choose, the complete life of an email, from birth to deletion, and everything in between - including getting caught in a spam filter, which is particular valuable information).

TE: Is 3D Mailbox a profitable venture thus far? What percentage of users download the demo and are converted into buyers of the full product?

RS: As mentioned, we went live just over a month ago, so the product is in its infancy. Our plan has been to spread the word by having a largely free first level (Miami Beach). People who register Level 1 (for $29.95) have our watermark removed from their outgoing emails and have access to human tech support. That's not a lot of incentive, and that was intentional.

But we already have a lot of people using it - many more than we could ever have expected in the first month of any product.

The business model will be proven as additional levels come out, which won't be free. Level 2 is a full-scale LAX airport, complete with 60 airlines representing incoming and outgoing mail. It's going to be great. Stay tuned.