E-mail attachments are dead.
May people won't open them due to the chance they are a virus. They clog up e-mail databases as they spread throughout a company (sometimes you get two to three copies of the same attachment). Corporate admins and security people are starting to put blocks on attachments at the firewall. All in all, attachments are on the way out.
To correct this, we need a new application (which may be a killer app): an enclosures/attachments posting tool that integrates with the major e-mail packages. Here is how it works: When I select add attachment I get the standard browse window which allows me to select the file I want to attach. However, instead of attaching the file to the e-mail my file is upstreamed to a storage server. What is sent instead is a username and password for getting that file, User name = e-mail address. Password = randomly generated number.
The benefits? My inbox doesn't clog if I am on a dial-up. Sys admins can block attachments at the firewall. E-mail databases grow less quickly. I can forward or receive multiple copies of the same pointer to the attachment without any increase in storage costs or bother. I don't have a virus threat because the file isn't sitting on my desktop. Also there is an archive of all my sent and received attachments, which I can use as I see fit (it would be even better if there was an annotation on the file).
This would be a nice business. Three client apps that attach to Outlook, Lotus, and Eudora. A storage system with the ability to handle secure access and a small level of personalization (my attachments list and people that have accessed my attachments sorted by e-mail, date, and file). Build this and companies would line up to buy it from you. [John Robb's Radio Weblog]