OperaMail sings a premium tune

You can add OperaMail to the list of free Web-based e-mail services now charging fees for “premium” features. The Norwegian software company, best known for its Opera browser, has updated its little-known Web-based e-mail.

Introduced in 1998, OperaMail is an advertising-supported, Web-based e-mail tool, similar to Yahoo Inc. Mail and Microsoft Corp.’s Hotmail. It works on any Web browser, not only the Opera browser. And now, like Yahoo and Hotmail, OperaMail has introduced a for-fee Premium service.

More–for a Fee

For an introductory price of US$15.99 per year, users will have access to additional storage, an advertising-free interface, and the capability to send and retrieve their OperaMail messages through a third-party e-mail application. The regular price is $29.99 per year, according to a statement released by the company, which says the introductory price is in effect only for a “limited time.”

Users of the premium service will have access to 25MB of storage space, and use of a spelling checker, mail filters, and a marking system for replied messages. A multilingual translation service is coming soon, the company says.

To sign up for OperaMail Premium, users must first register for a free OperaMail account and then upgrade their service.

OperaMail Premium’s features are similar to those now offered by Yahoo Mail and Microsoft’s Hotmail. Both have offered extra e-mail storage for a fee for some time and have more recently introduced additional premium services.

Competing Services

For $19.95 per year, Hotmail users have access to 10MB of personal storage and 30MB of Communities storage. They can send larger attachments, are exempt from the account expiration policy, and are able to check other POP e-mail accounts through Hotmail.

And for $30 per year, Yahoo users can access their account from a third-party POP program or have their messages forwarded to another e-mail account. They also can send 5MB attachments, while the free service allows users to send only 1.5MB attachments.

Yahoo and Hotmail are not the only e-mail providers to offer fee-based services. Smaller providers, including Mail.com, have been adding fee-based services to their free offerings or, as in the case of USA.net, eliminating the free service altogether.