People who used and treasured their Ireland.com email address are in for bad news – the service is to be discontinued on 7 November. The move follows the sale of Ireland.com by The Irish Times to Tourism Ireland under a digital co-operation deal worth €495,000.
Yesterday, The Irish Times and Tourism Ireland announced a digital co-operation agreement that spans a number of areas, including the sale of the Ireland.com domain name to Tourism Ireland in a move aimed at promoting Ireland overseas.
An email sent to Ireland.com email account holders read: “We wish to inform our @ireland.com email subscribers that the service will be discontinued from November 7th, 2012. From midnight on this date, you will no longer be able to send or receive messages.
“You will, however, be able to access your account until December 7th for the purpose of transferring any data (ie, emails, tasks, documents, appointments and/or contacts) currently saved on your account. We are writing to advise you of this change and to ensure the transition to a new service provider is as seamless as possible.”
The IT manager of The Irish Times John O’Shea explained to Siliconrepublic.com that at this point there are only 15,000 active users of @ireland.com accounts.
“We had outsourced the service to a third party and it was no longer our core business. Our core business is to provide news and so email is no longer core to where we are at this time.”
O’Shea explained that outsourcing the service was costly and for such a small number of users was losing the newspaper money. “It was originally intended to be a free service supported by advertising but with the economy the way it is, it was losing us money.
“We were also experiencing outages and in order to provide a decent service it would have required a large investment.
“The opportunity came up with Tourism Ireland and the strategy is to co-operate with them to boost tourism.”
O’Shea said the newspaper will still have some links with the Ireland.com domain.
“We have an agreement in place to provide a certain amount of content with links back to The Irish Times,” he said.
The move to close down the free webmail address echoes a similar decision by mobile operator O2 earlier this year to shut down its O2.ie email service, which was used by 16,000 people. Technical disruptions had been hitting the system, and a spokesman explained customer numbers had been declining.