Amazon launches Simple Email Service

Amazon has launched a new API for sending email "in the cloud" called Simple Email Service.

Like other Amazon services, one of the biggest draws—besides using the solid infrastructure—is the pricing. You can send up to 2,000 emails a day absolutely free. After that, you're looking at 10 cents per thousand emails and 15 cents per GB of data transfer.

Some basic list management functionalities such as tracking bouncebacks and marked-as-spam are included but all other list management functionality is not. This is a simple API designed for people who wish to manage the process on their own and would be a great addition to those who are using other Amazon Web Services.

My first question was, "How do they stop spammers?" Amazon scans each email before it goes out and if it has questionable data, they'll stop it from sending. Good to know.

Impact on the market

My next thought was, "What does CampaignMonitor and MailChimp think of this?" To be clear, SES is not a direct competitor to either of these services. CampaignMonitor and MailChimp provide plenty of tools and a great interface for managing email campaigns and lists.

My thought goes in two directions.

One, could or would these services shift any of their infrastructure to take advantage of the SES services. I could foresee an adjusted pricing structure and a spot where I could enter my AWS API key.

The second thought I had is related in that other services could pop up that are full management applications like CampaignMonitor and MailChimp but built on the SES service and possibly providing more cost effective solutions. I would not be surprised to see at least a couple services running within the next six months doing just that.

For more direct competition, you'd need to look at Postmark which, like SES, provides an API for you to integrate email services easily with your web application. That they have API code for a number of languages is already an advantage over Amazon's service.

It'll be interesting to see how the market evolves over the next year.

Published January 25, 2011
Categorized as Opinion
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Michael Lehmkuhl said on January 25, 2011

Thanks for bringing the AWS SES service to everyone's attention and offering your comments.

Like Postmark, Sendgrid is another service that will likely be none too happy about this offering from the Amazon infrastructure. However, it seems that regardless of what Amazon throws out there for devs, there's always room for other players. e.g., Rackspace Cloud, Linode, etc.

Like some of the other Amazon AWS offerings, the SES API seems somewhat proprietary in style. By contrast, Sendgrid lowers the barrier to entry by offering an SMTP API, making it very simple to switch existing applications to use their service.

I've got no association with Sendgrid other than having worked with their service recently. We've enjoyed using it.

Rob Faraj said on January 25, 2011

I agree this is not an immediate competitor to Campaign Monitor or Mail Chimp. However, it does enable a competitor to arise quickly without having to deal with the 'whole email thing' that these companies have mastered. The farming out of the email sending, spam control, bounce back management, etc..makes it a lot easier to create an email marketing app.

I was just looking at Postmark last night. Amazon beats them on price, but we'll have to see about the service itself.

Alex Hillman said on January 25, 2011

@Michael Lehmkuhl Howdy! Alex from Postmark here.

We, too, have an SMTP API that makes integration a snap. In addition to bounce and spam reporting, we're also actively protecting our sender IP reputations to make sure that your messages get delivered as fast as possible, and without getting caught in spam filters or behind bulk email. That means carefully monitoring ALL of our senders for spam-like activity, since our sender reputation is so critical.

It's worth noting that we're wholly focused on the best transactional email delivery we can. We don't mix our bulk email with our transactional email because we know the problems that causes. We've run an email marketing platform as well for the last 5 years, so we know the challenges our customers face from both sides of the fence.

If anyone has any questions about transactional email delivery, I'd be happy to do my best to answer them.

Alex Chang said on January 25, 2011

0.o wow, I would have ne'er thought of Amazon doing email. On a completely unrelated topic, please make a mobile site for this!

Bart said on January 28, 2011

Delivering e-mail is just one part of what CampaignMonitor and Mailchimp do. Do not forget that they have pretty advanced subscriber management, reporting and segmentation tools. It would be quite challenging to build those features and interfaces in a timeframe of just six months. I think Postmark and SendGrid are closer to Amazon's service but still serve a different market. Amazon's other services like S3 and even their database tools did not really disrupt any other markets.

Josh Conley said on February 08, 2011

I am using Postmark now and I really like the simplicity of their service and their user interface, but it's always good to have competition. I still wish the smaller companies luck and I don't plan on switching anytime soon. Right now, Amazon's service seems too 'un-user friendly'.

Toby Mathews said on February 17, 2011

Probably way behind the news here, but I see Mailchip now has SES integration - see the first link on the Features page:

Thanks for highlighting the Amazon service!

Sorry, comments are closed for this post. If you have any further questions or comments, feel free to send them to me directly.