BlueTie Guns For Google, Microsoft In Cloud E-Mail Duel

Cloud and hosted e-mail provider BlueTie is taking aim square at the big dogs of e-mail -- Google and Microsoft -- hoping to woo users off of the incumbents and kick the cloud-based e-mail channel up a notch.

Rochester, N.Y.-based BlueTie recently unveiled a new private label reseller program designed to give channel partners high margins, in many cases more than 50 percent, and the ability to offer their own branded e-mail and collaboration offerings while owning the customer relationship with its "your brand, your customers" mantra.

"There are opportunities for us in the reseller space to drive sales," said Christopher Alvaro, BlueTie's senior product marketing manager.

According to Alvaro, BlueTie's new partner program lets channel partners offer unlimited e-mail accounts at no monthly costs while earning higher margins than cloud-based e-mail rivals like Google and Microsoft. Alvaro said resellers of competing offerings are not making a lot of money with other e-mail platforms and are "suspicious" that they are being cut out of the equation in favor of direct sales.

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BlueTie president Jeremy Hunter, added that BlueTie partners own the customer relationship, a differentiator from competing cloud-based e-mail providers.

"VARs and MSPs have been reluctant to embrace cloud-based e-mail. To find out why, we took a hard look at rival reseller programs, and they all have the same deficiencies -- especially Google and Microsoft," Hunter said in a statement. "We believe channel partners want sizable margins on competitive products, and at the same time want to own the customer relationship in order to realize long term value."

Along with offering unlimited free e-mail accounts, BlueTie's program also lets VARs and MSPs drive revenue with high-return services offerings like e-mail archiving, real-time mobile e-mail and spam and virus protection. Those offerings are available to resellers at 50 percent or more below retail pricing and partners can earn up to 40 percent in additional discounts based on volume. Partners can sell e-mail for about $2 per month and tie services on top of that, he said.

And BlueTie isn't stopping there. Alvaro said a registered e-mail feature is coming soon, which will provide legal proof that an e-mail was sent and received. Overall, Alvaro said, BlueTie offers end-users and partners 80 percent of the functionality of market leaders at about half the cost.

BlueTie also offers marketing opportunities through white label targeted ads. BlueTie also gives partners access to product demos, FAQs and other training and collateral, along with implementation and management support.

Hunter added that BlueTie resellers can sign up online with no wait time and are not subject to credit checks and don't require a pre-existing user base.

"Microsoft and Google have cumbersome application processes and lengthy credit checks for their programs," Hunter said. "We wanted the focus to be on ease of use. BlueTie channel partners can sign up and start selling the same day, and we have a support network to assist with any questions that may come up."

Alvaro said BlueTie is looking to double its partner base by the end of the year. Currently, BlueTie is approaching roughly 2 million mailboxes. Since the beginning of 2010, the company has added an average of 1,924 business e-mail boxes per month that were previously on Exchange and an average of 3,919 per month that were using Google's Gmail previously.

"We don't believe Google has a real business–focused e-mail offering," Alvaro said.