Busy morning here at Inbox 2004.  Looks like a few hundred attendees, from across the spectrum of messaging vendors and IT organizations interested in messaging.  
Bright and early at 8 AM, I participated in a panel discussion on "Client features and futures" with the General Manager for Microsoft Outlook and the General Manager for Qualcomm's Eudora.  We were a little leery when 8 AM came and went with only five delegates in the room, but eventually attendance blossomed, as did the conversation.  Each of us spent 10 minutes discussing our respective vision for e-mail clients and the future, which was followed by open Q&A and discussion on topics like spam, the role of e-mail in the future, the role of clients in the future, and managing e-mail deluge.  By that point, the audience included some industry luminaries such as Esther Dyson, John Dickinson, and one-time colleague JF Sullivan.  So a great discussion, and my thanks to Fred Paul for doing an excellent job of facilitating the session.
This panel discussion was followed by the event keynote, given by Eric Hahn.  Hahn is well known in the messaging business, having been involved with some small companies like cc:Mail, Collabra, etc.
Hahn talked about four ways that e-mail is changing:

  • Spam -- the good guys win
  • Messaging processing platforms emerge
  • E-mail goes mobile
  • The tired "message - folder - address" metaphor is upgraded
I found his discussion resonated well with me, as well as with the whole audience.  
Spam -- already within IBM, I'm not getting much spam anymore.  Maybe 2 messages a day.  Hahn's assertion was that a well-protected messaging environment is already catching spam effectively...but that it is the consumer market where it is still a huge problem to be solved.
Messaging processing platforms -- the metaphor of a "sausage factory" was used to describe the amount of pre- and post-processing going on in e-mail environments today -- with anti-virus, anti-spam, compliance, content filtering, archiving all taking place, and all using different management metaphors and tools.  Hahn advocated the idea that all of these should merge into a single appliance -- perhaps part of the messaging environment itself -- rather than having every step handle things of their own accord.
E-mail goes mobile -- not exactly a revelation to me, but I guess the mainstream market still has a way to go here.
"Message - folder - address" -- IBM has been advocating the idea of "reinventing e-mail" for some time, so it's nice to see another proponent come along.
Anyway, the whole conference has a clubby feel -- a heck of a lot of names and faces that have been around the e-mail business for a long time.  Unfortunately, I can't stay for the remaining days, but it looks like it will be a good one.  The same folks are planning on running a fall version of this conference -- mid-November, in Atlanta.  Something to possibly look forward to, though I think my calendar is already booked that week.

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