Tech Review: Amazon Simple Email Service vs. Gmail and Office 365

SES Features

Amazon Simple Email Service is an affordable, scalable option for email users. At $0.10/1000 emails, Amazon SES is priced competitively. For users depending on bulk email communication, especially to market to businesses, the cost of Amazon SES is attractive. With cloud-based storage, Amazon SES joins competitors like Gmail and Office 365.

Amazon Simple Email is just that: a simple way to use cloud storage to send outbound email. While Amazon SES will not replace a personal email account for receiving email and other messages, it does provide a cost-effective solution for mass emailing. Because Amazon SES is scalable, emails are easily sized for reading on a variety of devices, making bulk marketing even more effective with a broad reach.

Amazon SES vs. Gmail

Google’s Gmail is free and offers cloud-based storage. Unlike the Amazon Simple Email Service, Gmail allows users to send email as well as use video chatting. Gmail also provides social media connectivity, an attractive feature in an increasingly connected world.

Gmail offers security, filtering spam and suspicious email. Quite the handy feature, Gmail separates user mail into five categories: primary, social, promotions, updates, and forums. This kind of triage is useful to users looking to streamline their mail and save time by reading important items rather than wading through a full inbox.

Amazon SES vs. Office 365

Microsoft’s Office 365 suite offers cloud storage as well as an easy to use interface. Office 365 keeps many of the features familiar to users, making the software almost intuitive.

Ease of use is an attractive attribute when measured against Amazon SES and its challenging interface. Office 365 also works well on touch screen devices, which is essential with the ever-increasing popularity of tablets and smartphones. Office 365 comes with a price tag of $100. Hefty at first glance, that price allows users to install the software on 5 devices.

When broken down, the cost is a bargain. Office 365 also comes in a collegiate version, at $80. Over the course of an undergraduate degree, Office 365 holds itself up as very affordable. With easy editing on any device, as well as file sharing, enhanced viewing and chat option, Office 365 offers a wide array of tools for every user.

Pros and Cons

  • The price of Amazon Simple Email Service is affordable.
  • The service offers protection against viruses and malware, which is always appreciated.
  • Amazon is a known and reliable leader in the online community, and name recognition goes a long way in recommending their email service.
  • Reliability is crucial, and users can be confident that Amazon SES is long on reliability, if short on bells and whistles.
  • One clear drawback of the Amazon Simple Email Service is that it is an outbound-only email service.
  • Another shortcoming is the program’s interface.

Both outbound-only capability and the interface are worth noting as factors that could lead potential users to seek other avenues for sending and receiving emails in an easy, intuitive format.

Best Features

Amazon SES is economical and is a good option for users on a budget. The affordability of the service is enhanced by the lack of a long-term user commitment. No long contract or terms of use make this a flexible choice. Amazon Simple Email Service is described as “bare bones.”

This can be seen pejoratively, but looking with a bit of discernment suggests that “bare bone” is, often, what users need. That is, users of Amazon SES are getting precisely what they need and nothing they do not. The service offers inexpensive outbound email. And delivers it. Simple.

Worst Features

With its send-only restriction, Amazon Simple Email Service is precisely that: simple.

While useful for mass marketing, Amazon SES restriction may encourage users to seek alternatives like Gmail and Office 365 for added flexibility.

A clunky interface makes Amazon SES more difficult to use than some competitors. A useful hack recommends users find a separate, self-hosted interface to run Amazon SES in order to take advantage of the economical cost without tolerating an irritating API. Also, some forums highlight an overall lack of support from Amazon in handling user complaints.

Largely, the complaints center on spam received from Amazon SES addresses. When users complain about receiving spam, it might be reasoned that they will be inclined to block specific email, if not entire IP’s. That said, it would be in the best interest of the future of Amazon SES if there were increasing focus on customer complaints. Customer care can go a long way toward customer retention. Even at $0.10/1000 emails, marketers may shy away from using an email service that is widely blocked.

Completely Unexpected

A clunky interface makes Amazon SES more difficult to use than some competitors. A useful hack recommends users find a separate, self-hosted interface to run Amazon SES in order to take advantage of the economical cost without tolerating an irritating API.

Prospects for Market Share Capture and Long Term Success

In terms of market share, Amazon Simple Email Service does not crack the top ten companies offering email services. Apple has a solid grip on two of the top three slots, with Gmail finishing second and Outlook rolling in at fourth place. If Amazon SES is to compete in a crowded marketplace, the minimalism of its service, an unfortunate liability, needs to be more robust. Over the long term, Amazon SES can roust attention and lure new users by offering additional features and a smoother interface.

Bottom Line

Amazon Simple Email Service is good but not great. However, for users on a budget or looking to send bulk email, Amazon SES delivers what it promises.