Yahoo revamps email with social sheen
Social networking services like Facebook have become a key form of communication, but Yahoo believes there’s plenty of room left to improve good old email.
On Tuesday, Yahoo Inc <YHOO.O> began to roll out a new version of its Web-based Yahoo mail product that boasts faster performance, new capabilities, and yes, even more social networking features.
Yahoo had provided a sneak peek at its improved email product at the company’s “Product Runway” event last month. Beginning on Tuesday, you can try out a beta test version of the new Yahoo Mail for yourself.
So what’s new? For one thing, Yahoo says its latest email product performs twice as fast as the previous version, according to internal tests. And the company says an improved search feature makes it easier to cull through the morass of messages that have accumulated in your inbox over the years.
You can also instantly peruse the Flicker and Picasa photos your friends email you from directly within Yahoo Mail, instead of clicking a link and viewing the photos on a separate web page.
Yahoo Mail is also adding some social savvy, by alerting you to unread email messages from the friends and contacts that it has somehow determined are most important to you. And in addition to typing out traditional email messages, the new Yahoo Mail lets you quickly fire off status updates to Facebook friends, Twitter followers, or Yahoo network connections.
It’s hard to fault Yahoo for innovating. But one wonders how much change consumers actually want in their email.
Google Inc <GOOG.O> recently allowed users to disable the innovative but not-universally-liked “threaded” conversation view that it pioneered in its Gmail email product, giving people the option of reading their email messages the old-fashioned way.
And according to Yahoo, 40 percent of users of users opted not to switch to previous “enhanced” versions of Yahoo Mail that the company has rolled out in the past.