E-card is an electronic postcard or greeting card, with the primary difference being that it is created using digital media instead of paper or other traditional materials. E-cards are made available in many different ways, usually on various Internet sites. They can be sent to a recipient virtually, usually via e-mail or an instant messaging service.
Since e-cards are Digital data "content", they are highly editable, allowing them to be extensively personalized by the sender. They are also capable of presenting animated gifs or videos.
Typically a catalog of E-cards is made available on a publisher's website. After selecting a card, the sender can personalize it to various degrees by adding a message, photo, or video. Finally, the sender specifies the recipient's e-mail address and the website delivers an e-mail message to the recipient on behalf of the sender.
Flash-animated greeting cards also could include interactivity, for example, asking the viewer to choose a picture to animate, but most Flash E-cards were designed to convey the sentiment of the sender through simple observation.
Flash-animated cards were offered by almost all major E-card publishers and were consequently the most common format used. When Flash stopped being supported by Adobe on December 31, 2020, companies producing E-cards had to adopt more modern ways to display files.
One of the first companies that created MCards is a Dutch Company called Mgreetings (established in 2003). MCards can be sent from a PC in a similar way as sending E-cards. Users can go to a website online, select a card enter the recipient's mobile number, and that card will be sent to the recipient's mobile phone as an MMS.
MIT's postcards remained the dominant and the only documented E-card service until the late fall of 1995. In Nov 1995, Registry Data | Network Solutions Awesome Cyber Cards and also then known as marlo.com (located at marlo.com until Oct 2010, now moved), began developing the Internet greeting card, a digital Internet card including a fixed or suggested greeting as well as an image.
When the Internet Archive began capturing websites across the Internet in the fall of 1996, it created a reservoir of information about E-card development by preserving Internet history from that time and from earlier time-marked Internet pages captured at that time. The Awesome Cards web pages, captured on Nov 10, 1996, and available at the Wayback Machine demonstrate the development of the cyber greeting card through the year 1996 as one drills down through its card collections. Specifically, the holiday collections from earlier that same year give a virtual time-stamp, of greeting card development, starting with Valentines with fixed or semi-fixed greetings in February 1996 and progressing through greeting cards with changeable suggested greetings by the Thanksgiving collection.
By mid-1996, a number of sites had developed E-cards. By mid-October 1996, directly emailable greeting cards and postcards ("Email Express") were developed and introduced by Awesome Cards, based on new capabilities introduced in the Netscape 3.0 browser. This is the first time the E-card itself could be emailed directly by the card sender to the recipient rather than having an announcement sent with a link to the card's location at the E-card site. E-cards Sent Directly Within Email Message, Email Express
Between Sep 1996 and Thanksgiving 1997, BlueMtn Ecards, BlueMtn 1st Archive a paper greeting card company named Blue Mountain developed E-cards on its website. Blue Mountain grew quickly by allowing visitors to create greetings for others to use. Blue Mountain further expanded when Microsoft promoted its service on its free Hotmail service. This affiliation ceased and Blue Mountain sued Microsoft in Nov 1998 for putting email card announcements from it and other E-card companies in the junk folder of its Hotmail users.
By 1999, major capital was starting to flow into the Internet, beginning the dotcom boom. Of the E-card sites, Blue Mountain Arts was noteworthy in this period for its sale in October 1999 to Excite@Home for (which represents a price of per unique monthly user). The transaction has been referenced by CNN and Business 2.0 as evidence of the Dot-com bubble. On September 13, 2001, three weeks before filing for bankruptcy on October 1, 2001, Excite@Home sold BlueMountain.com to American Greetings for , or per unique monthly user. The website BlueMountain.com remains a large website, primarily focused on E-cards. In June 2008, JustAnotherDotCom.com purchased the free E-card site Greeting-cards.com and added it to their own greeting card site, which made them one of the largest E-card sites in the world.
Several non-profit organizations offer free E-cards as a way of having a supporter introduce the organization to another individual. In 2006, SOS Children's Villages - USA began offering free E-cards for many occasions such as birthdays, thank yous, and Mother's Day.
According to data provided by Google, searches for e-cards have declined to less than 1% of their past levels, with interest declining since record-keeping began in 2004.