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Originally published January 28, 2015 at 11:34 AM | Page modified January 29, 2015 at 1:42 PM

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Amazon rolls out email and calendaring for businesses

Amazon Web Services, which rents computing storage and services to businesses, will debut WorkMail by June to help compete with Microsoft and Google.

Seattle Times business reporter

advertising is launching a Web-based corporate-email service, ratcheting up its competition with Google and Microsoft.

The company will offer WorkMail, an email and calendaring service, through its Amazon Web Services unit, which rents computing storage and services to businesses, a spokeswoman said Wednesday. Forbes broke the news.

Amazon will launch the product in the second quarter. It will cost $4 per user per month for a mailbox with 50 gigabytes of storage. If customers bundle it with Zocalo, the AWS file storage service Amazon is renaming WorkDocs, it will cost $6 per user per month for 50 gigabytes of mail storage and 200 gigabytes of file storage.

For many companies, email remains a core business process, a place where workers store information as well as plan business strategy. AWS clearly hopes to tie those functions into its broader offerings.

In a statement, AWS Vice President Peter De Santis said customers have “repeatedly asked” for a business email and calendaring service that is less expensive and easier than managing those applications on their own, and more secure than rivals’ online offerings.

One key feature of WorkMail is that customers can choose the region where their data is stored, so that Chinese customers can keep their mail on AWS servers in China, while Germans can keep their data in that country. That’s increasingly important for customers who are required, either by internal policy or government regulation, to keep their data in the country of its creation.

Amazon is the pioneer in the business of providing infrastructure computing as a service, and continues to lead in that market. But Google and Microsoft are keen to make inroads there, and are using their position as email providers as a way to target customers interested in shifting more of their computing to the Web.

According to Forbes, WorkMail won’t be the application that workers see when they open their mailboxes. Rather, it would serve as the so-called “back-end” technology that would deliver mail and calendaring to applications such as Microsoft Outlook that would run on top of it.

As mundane as email might seem, it has the potential to generate $1 billion in annual revenue, Robert W. Baird & Co. analyst Colin Sebastian wrote in a research note. And because Amazon is willing to offer services such as WorkMail on thin margins, that business could grow rapidly, particularly as Amazon adds more corporate applications.

“We believe that a more complete enterprise suite of software would increase the opportunity for Amazon to the $10 billion area, or even higher,” Sebastian wrote.

Amazon shares lost $2.69 Wednesday to close at $304.06.

Jay Greene: 206-464-2231 or Twitter @greene