Tech

Newton Mail is being resurrected again, this time by superfans

The company's new owners have big plans for the mail client. But the app's subscription fees might make it difficult to bring in new customers.

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Newton Mail, a subscription-based email client with an impressively large fanbase, is being reincarnated by new owners: long-time fans Maitrik Kataria and Justin Mitchell. After Newton’s owner Essential announced it would be shutting down in February, Kataria and Mitchell reached out to the company to figure out how they could save their favorite email client. And somehow they’ve done it.

Newton, which was originally produced under the name CloudMagic, has been shut down and given new life more times than most companies are afforded. CloudMagic rebranded as Newton in 2016 and did pretty well for itself — by the time it first shut down in the summer of 2018, the service had more than 40,000 paid subscribers.

The purchase of Newton Mail by Kataria and Mitchell brings the mail client back to its roots as a company free of venture capital funding. Newton will need to bank on its long-standing fan base’s willingness to pay subscription fees for a mail client if it wants to survive. Otherwise, history is doomed to repeat itself once again.

Who are these people? — Maitrik Kataria and Justin Mitchell aren’t just fans of the app; they both already work in tech, which should hopefully help them as they work to restore Newton to its former glory. Kataria is a product designer at Simform, a software development company, while Mitchell is the founder of design agency SoFriendly.

Calling these two “fans” is a bit of an understatement. Mitchell loved the app so much that he actually reached out to CloudMagic back in 2018 when it first shut down, pleading for any way to help keep the service alive. It took almost two years, but it looks like he’s finally managed to do so.

Big plans for the future — Kataria and Mitchell have created a contingency plan so Newton never has to fully shut down again. Even if they go bankrupt, the new owners say self-hosted servers and open-sourcing of the platform will allow it to live on indefinitely.

Furthermore, Kataria and Mitchell are promising major bug fixes that have long frustrated users, as well as significant updates within the next three to six months. They also hope to improve customer support. Newton Mail will also give customers more control over their data as the app moves forward, the pair stated.

But it’s still expensive — Newton is not free. That’s the biggest barrier to entry for new customers and the main reason the app has failed time and time again. There are so many free, wonderful email clients out there that paying a monthly or yearly fee for one can be a hard sell for customers. That $50 per year might be pocket change for some, but for others it’s outrageously high.

Newton is running a few discount programs until the end of May in hopes of bringing back some customers. Past subscribers who want to subscribe again can get a 20 percent discount, and existing subscribers can get three months free.

Kataria and Mitchell are understandably excited by the prospect of bringing Newton Mail into the new decade. But the odds are stacked against Newton right now. The app’s new owners will be fighting for profitability for a long time.