|Over the past few years, the popularity of ecard or electronic greeting card websites has increased. It started with a few websites that offered a free service for sending ecards to family and friends. These first ecards were simply a nice picture with a text greeting. The sender could customize the ecard by choosing the background music and personalizing the text message. Once customized, the final step was to send an email message which contained a link to view the ecard online at the website. Soon, services such a Bravenet.com offered the back-end scripts and hosted the images so that anyone could offer an ecard service. And, the number of sites grew.|
As the boom leveled off, some of these sites, such as BlueMountain.com, became very popular and the ecards became more sophisticated with the addition of FlashR animation. Then, the big guys, such as American Greetings and Hallmark, jumped on the band wagon and most of the privately owned ecard sites disappeared or were consumed by the large commercial sites. As the ecards became more and more elaborate, these sites added a membership feature to their ecard service. With this membership, the user had a bigger inventory of ecards from which to choose, with only a few ecards still offered for free.
So, what has happened to the privately owned ecard websites that managed not to disappear? How have they been able to compete with these large, commercial sites. First, there are no ads attached to the ecards or the notification email message. Also, when the recipient goes to the website to view the card, the site itself is not deluged with commercial ads. A second way to compete is to offer beautiful, high quality ecards that can be considered works of art in their own right.
There are a few sites that fit into this category and offer high quality ecards. One that has been around since 2002 is Jacquie Lawson Ecards (jacquielawson.com). Her inventory has grown over the years to over 120 ecards. Two other sites that have been around for only a few years are Artleafcards (artleafcards.com) and Ojolio (ojolie.com). These ecards are mini-movies and are a collaboration of digital artists, computer musicians and Flash movie animators.
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