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Irish cut-price email to snailmail service launches

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A small Irish outfit is trying to muscle in on the might of traditional postal suppliers by offering people the chance to send electronic mail to someone who doesn't have an email account. The Dublin-based service said it will turn email into a letter and deliver it anywhere in the world for just 99 cents. "We see it as snailmail for the Internet age," said Dr Donal O'Mahony of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, the brains behind letterpost.com. "It's a perfect way to bridge the current gap between people who use email all the time and those who don't have email access yet. "It's speedy, friendly, private and cheap. It is also ideal for reaching the large numbers of people who only read their email once every few weeks, or cases where the sender simply can't remember the email address," he said. No, we’re not entirely sure what he’s talking about either. To send a message users simply compose it at the letterpost.com Web site, then buy a 99-cent stamp online using the iTransact ecommerce service. When they hit the "send" button, the message is automatically sent to a mail centre, printed out as a letter and put into an envelope, then posted to the addressee. But the concept of transforming email into paper mail is not new. The Royal Mail set up a similar service in tandem with MSN a year ago. The big difference for users is that the Royal Mail service starts at £1.50 ($2.40) per email/letter -- almost two-and-a-half times more expensive than letterpost.com. ®

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