[There are many scenarios where various corporations rape local consumers in various ways. I'm going to start a series of blogs on such activities with the hope of helping Sri Lankan consumers be more smart and not pay extra for things they don't need to pay (extra) for!]
Recently Mobitel, the 2nd largest (I think) mobile operator in Sri Lanka, launch a commercial version of Google Apps with the brand Mobitel M3 Apps. From everything I have read and understand, Mobiletel M3 Apps is the same as the Google Apps that anyone with an @gmail.com address gets free, except: (a) you get a @mobitelnet.lk email address, (b) you get the ability to have subsidiary accounts, (c) you get to pay Rs. 50/month (which is apparently a special offer for this year) and (d) its all tied to your Mobitel account so if you cancel that you lose everything after 60 days. I got this info from their FAQ; if any of it is wrong I'm sure someone from Mobitel will correct it :-).
This is not full Google Apps. We (WSO2) are now paying customers of Google Apps (at $50/user/year .. roughly 10x what Mobitel is charging) and as long as we pay them the service will remain. Furthermore, most importantly, we own our domain and if Microsoft were to offer a better service (for example) and if we wanted to switch, we can do it without affecting our public face at all.
This is the importance of owning your own domain. That's why I set up this blog under my name - after moving twice (from Radio Userland to Bloglines and then to Blogger) I didn't want to be stuck with the same problem if I wanted to move again.
So any person who ties their email address to the ISP is IMO making a HUGE mistake. Email addresses, Web sites, blogs are all part of your personal or your organization's Internet personality. Why give that to an ISP as a hostage?? Makes no sense at all any more.
Its one reason to do it if its free. However, to pay money and do it? Absolutely not!
That brings me to my second rant about this service- unless I'm missing something crucial, the only advantage I get over simply using GMail and the other free Google Apps with an @gmail.com address is that I get to have "subsidiary" accounts under the same account. However, they too are under @mobitelnet.lk. Huh? How are those subsidiary accounts different from random other accounts under @mobitelnet.lk? They're not .. the only difference is a billing convenience for Mobitel: they get to charge for all the accounts under one Mobitel account.
So, here we have our #2 mobile company advertising away saying "Pay us Rs. 100 to sign up and Rs. 50/month" so you can get all this cool stuff. (That's approximately $1 and $0.50, respectively.) EXCEPT, all that cool stuff is TOTALLY free for all people on the Internet!!!! All you need to pay for is bandwidth.
So what Mobitel is doing is conning uninformed local subscribers that they need to pay for these services. This is utter crap and a total rape of the consumer.
From Google's point of view this is great I guess- all they need to do is support another domain (which is trivial) and they get some cash out of something they give away free. Its our stupidity for using that stuff; not Google's fault at all. I suspect there are lots of other greedy corporates in other relatively poor, developing countries where the execs see a way to sell free stuff to the uninformed masses too. Not exactly compatible with "do no evil" but I guess it is compatible with "see no evil, hear no evil."
Just say no.