Outpost, egreetings, sparks, iprint, and why os8 sucks

Rohit Khare (rohit@uci.edu)
Fri, 5 Feb 1999 20:12:55 -0800

On the last point, it's because I had this massive and insightful post on
the state of the
direct-relationship-marketing-mediated-by-funky-graphic-design industry
that Eudora Pro ate because MacOS8 just crashed it out because it *still*
can't protect memory allocation. And spare me the hosannas for 8.6, Tim --
I'll see it when I believe it...

Gbolcer pointed me at outpost, which led me on a wild goosechase through a
very small but funky market trying to figure out who owns who and who
bought who; and who -- if anyone -- is making money.

OutPost Network is a series of brands now owned by infospace loosely
centered around personalized contact: v-postcards, real cards, v-pages,
prank mail, humor books, getting off junk mail lists, requesting college
catalogs, a whole slew of such services. I bought a $4 card from them and
had a very pleasant, professional, and quick buying experience.

There's some sort of tie to egreetings, beginning with co-marketing Pix
art-v-cards. They are a for-profit competitor to Blue Mountain Arts.
http://www.egreetings.com is in turn sponsored by http://www.sparks.com, an
Amazon-like paper greeting card warehouse.

These businesses are all separate from real-world equivalents like maxracks
and the me-too Yahoo/Hallmark agreement.

There's also iPrint.com, which will pay $2.25mn for exposure on lycos and
tripod. An e-commerce entrant in the $78bn US printing industry.

too discouraged to do the industry analysis again,

PS. Palo Verde is declaring war on me because my key-policy protest got
published in the UCI newspaper today: I got a warning that they'll revoke
my garage priviliges because I -- like many of my neighbors -- left the
door open for a while. So now it's time to ratchet back: they rekeyed my
locks without warning, and I want to see them respond to *my* complaints
about other garage violations -- including an infamously abusive fellow
who's got a washer/dryer/gym in there instead of a car...

Electronic greetings competition intensifies
Ads bolster Blue Mountain and E-greetings
by Patricia Riedman
Regularly ranked as one of the top 10 commerce sites on the Web, Blue
Mountain Arts.com doesn't sell a single thing. Until now.
While Blue Mountain says it doesn't plan to charge for its electronic
greeting cards, last week it did start accepting its first ads. It also
plans to build a shopping area on the site by the end of the year, selling
complementary greeting card products such as gifts.
Separately, rival electronic greeting site E-greetings Network today names
Butler, Shine & Stern, Sausalito, Calif., its agency of record for a $2
million consumer campaign.
As for the first advertisers on Blue Mountain, the site wouldn't disclose
names, saying ads are being tested and that it's working on finalizing
longer-term sponsorship deals.
"We're looking to monetize the value of the site in a strategic way," said
Karen Davidson, VP-marketing and sales, noting that the site received 4.2
million unique users in September, according to Media Metrix.
The online arm of the Blue Mountain Arts card company in Boulder, Colo.,
the site has grown entirely by word of mouth: It has not done any banner
ads or promotions--not even a URL posted on the back of a card. Users find
out about the site by receiving a notice to pick up an animated greeting
All of which is why the ads will be on on the confirmation page that
appears after someone has sent a greeting, said Ms. Davidson, so as not to
disrupt the flow of the site, which has been free of commerce for its
two-year existence.
"We're looking for strategic partners who fit contextually with sending a
card," she said.
The online greeting space is small. Jupiter Communications clumps cards
under specialty gifts, a category including wine and flowers that's
projected to reach $219 million in 1998. Yet it's growing fast with offline
companies battling for brand share. Last December, Hallmark Cards and
American Greetings Corp. expanded their sites in time for the holidays.
Online-only greetings company E-greetings, San Francisco, is also about to
rev up its online marketing. Formerly known as Greet Street, the site named
Butler its agency for a consumer print campaign, expected to start by
yearend and go through mid 1999.
E-greetings picked Butler after reviewing two other unnamed agencies.
President Tony Levitan, who co-founded the company with Fred Campbell, said
Butler won the account on the merits of its speculative campaigns and work
for Miller's Outpost and Borders. Butler will also handle advertising and
marketing of E-greetings' site. The rest will be handled in-house.
"Consumers for the most part don't know about us yet," said Mr. Levitan,
adding that the campaign will employ humor to increase brand awareness. In
E-greetings reported its logs counted nearly 3 million unique visits, which
Mr. Levitan said is up from 750,000 unique visits in January.
The big difference between Blue Mountain and other sites such as
E-greetings is the cost of the cards. E-greetings has free and
advertising-sponsored cards, but charges for its top-line animated cards.
Blue Mountain will use advertising and eventually commerce distribution
deals for revenue.
Asked whether E-greetings is moving to a free model, Mr. Levitan said,
"There's going to be some changes in our strategies" and to expect a lot
more e-greetings on its site.
James McQuivey, analyst, Forrester Research, said he thinks there's a niche
market for people who will pay for an electronic greeting. Yet, he asks:
"Can [E-greetings] get the momentum that Blue Mountain Arts has with a paid
model? I don't think so."
Blue Mountain got into the business because the founders are artists who
wanted to write poetry, Mr. McQuivey said. "Anyone else in the world would
have started charging for that a long time ago."
By accepting e-commerce, Blue Mountain has to be careful not to disturb the
emotional attachment consumers have with the brand.
Not only are the cards free, the style of the site is very low-pressure, he
said. All that could be disrupted if "they start cramming business offers"
on the site.

Lycos, iPrint in e-commerce deal
By Tim Clark
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
August 24, 1998, 9:50 a.m. PT
URL: http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,25609,00.html
Lycos and online print shop iPrint.com today announced a $2.25 million,
multiyear deal that makes iPrint the exclusive print shop on both Lycos and
its Tripod subsidiary for several years.
The two firms say it's the first broad e-commerce deal in the commercial
printing market, which generates $78 billion a year.
"The relationship with iPrint will help introduce the speed and power of
the Internet to printing, making the design and proofing processes quicker
and easier than traditional printing methods," Robert Davis, Lycos CEO,
said in a statement.
The Lycos iPrint and Tripod iPrint Shops are targeted at printing items
such as business cards, stationery, rubber stamps, personalized Post-it
Notes, party invitations, photo real estate flyers, photo t-shirts, mouse
pads, and coffee cups.
"As with books and music, Internet consumers will find that creating and
ordering printed products is much more convenient and cost-effective online
than through the traditional approach," iPrint CEO Royal Farros said in a

Canon debuts seven-color printer
By Paul Festa
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
October 20, 1997, 11:50 a.m. PT
URL: http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,15417,00.html
Canon Computer Systems is shipping a seven-color ink jet printer priced
under $450 and aimed at home users and small businesses that need to
generate images comparable to 35mm photos in quality.
Canon's BJC-7000 printer uses an advanced Bubble Jet technology that Canon
says provides color grading four times finer than conventional technology.
The Canon technology reduces feathering and bleeding between colors while
producing sharper text, richer hues, and denser blacks, according to the
The printer packs more than 1,000 nozzles and two printheads. Canon's
technology makes print water-resistant, the company said.
Bundled with the printer is Canon's Creative 3, a software suite that helps
users print such things as brochures, business cards, and T-shirts. The
software also has a feature to print Web pages.
The printer provides resolution as high as 1200-by-600 dots per inch for
both color and black ink printing. It prints 3.5 pages per minute in color
(based on 15 percent page coverage), and 5 pages per minute with black ink
(based on 5 percent page coverage).
The printer can also print on the whole of an 8.5-by-11-inch sheet of paper
using Canon's edge-to-edge printing technology and Canon's LetterPlus
paper, which, at 9 by 13.3 inches, provides a removable margin around the
The printer is available at an estimated street price of $449, compared to
four- and five-color ink jet printers priced under $200