Congratulations on your two steps towards a product with a real privacy advantage (client and sync)! Now you just have the important one left to gain a real advantage: the server.
While I’m sure you’ll get a cash boost while people are confused enough to think the whole project has gone open source, good luck maintaining the cashflow of a privacy market product once people realize that the server is still closed source and centralized. I believe that the founders really do mean well, but that this initial cashflow is likely to lead you to believe you have a more stable business model than you actually do. Here’s why:
Sorry, but no, you’re not. As long as you make it mandatory to have private data sent to someone else’s centralized, proprietary server, you don’t have a privacy oriented product. This is especially true for sending users info to a server owned by a US company bound by third party doctrine law. Right now the US government can read your users personal info under a gag order so no-one outside of your company knows. The most passionate and educated potential contributors don’t tend to like that.
No. It doesn’t. Privacy concerns are removed by avoiding sending people’s data to centralized, proprietary third party servers, especially servers based in the US. Privacy concerns are not removed just by letting people see the data you’re sending. Mine certainly aren’t. When I first read this announcement I was hoping to be able to endorse, share and contribute to your success. Knowing that the servers are centralized, proprietary US owned and mandatory to get all of the features eliminates this. Knowing that the client is just an onramp to getting people to use prevents me using, sharing and endorsing even the free client without the mailspring ID requirement. The project has missed the point.
The “innovative idea” that will give a valid competitive edge is being genuinely privacy oriented by not sending personal info to US based, centralized proprietary servers.
This is exactly what you’re doing, right now, even without requiring a mailspringID.
As hard as it is for most devs to understand, in open source, your advantage is not your code. Really, it isn’t. Code comes from people, the more numerous and committed, the better. It’s a strong community of users, customers and contributors, deeply committed to a cause larger than an app, namely privacy, security, sovereignty and helping the greater community and the world to have all these things.
By keeping the server closed source, you’re eliminating that community -your one chance to have something the competitors can’t easily clone. You’re leaving yourself with only the transitory people who haven’t realized yet that this project isn’t (yet - I still have hope) an open source project, and the people who just don’t care. Neither make for the strongest community of advocates and contributors, leaving this as just another quasi proprietary app with a nice interface but not much more.
Creating something fully open (including the server) allows competitors to clone your code, but it makes them dependent on you. Creating a rabidly supportive community of contributors with an opportunity to validate their ideals by supporting you monetarily is how you create the community, customers and contributions to be the next Nextcloud of email, rather than the next ownCloud.