According to news posted today at The End of Free, American Express is discontinuing its free email service just as About.com and Altavista have recently.
While I don't expect this to affect any ContentBiz readers' opt-in lists much (I don't think there were so many eager Amex mailbox users that it's gonna take a discernable slice out of your hide), it's a fascinating juxtaposition to the Case Study our sister publication ConsumerMarketingBiz published today on Care2.com (the portal for "light green" consumers).
You see Care2.com offers both free email boxes and free ecards (among other things). This past holiday season when major ecard sites such as BlueMountain shifted to a mostly paid subscription basis, Care2.com saw a directly-related 50% rise in their free ecard business.
So, duh, I can spot an email backlash coming too. Pretty soon anyone NOT charging for email boxes will be the exception and will benefit from it. Especially if they can guarantee to filter spam (hey, they'll be gods walking on earth if they can do that).