The Great Yahoo Web Mail Land Grab
To mollify Yahoo users tired of their clunky e-mail handles, Yahoo June 19 opened two new e-mail domains that will let new and existing users register for the e-mail address or Yahoo ID they prefer.
The domains are ymail.com and rocketmail.com. At 266 million global users, Yahoo's Mail application has gotten so fat that users can't get the aliases they want because they've been taken.
As a hypothetical example, a man named Joe Smith who wants to register for email@example.com may be able to get it, or something close to it, instead of the more bloated firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Getting the ideal e-mail address of choice is getting increasingly difficult," John Kremer, vice president of Yahoo Mail, told eWEEK. "Take someone who wants to get Clint@yahoo.com: They don't have much of a chance. You're going to end up with Clint16527@yahoo.com. New users that come on to Yahoo indicate that they're not getting their e-mail ID of choice."
It's a minor effort compared to, say, Yahoo's SearchMonkey endeavor to open up its search platform for third-party programmers. However, it's an important olive branch to consumers in the wake of the train-wreck-like battle for control with would-be acquirer Microsoft.
Yahoo's spurning of Microsoft elevated the stress levels of many Yahoo investors, some of whom are calling for aid and succor from investor Carl Icahn or recommending their own slates.
The floor will be open at the shareholders meeting Aug. 1; in the meantime, adding new e-mail domains may placate Yahoo's constant friend, the consumer. Yahoo doesn't make money from its Web mail, but the application certainly fosters brand loyalty among users of the portal who access other content on the site and click on ads.
Why ymail.com and rocketmail.com? Kremer said Yahoo users are comfortable with ymail because Yahoo mobile device users access Yahoo Mail by typing in Y! Mail as opposed to the full Yahoo Mail alias.
Rocketmail was the service Yahoo acquired when it bought Four11 for $92 million in October 1997. It became the foundation for Yahoo Mail, which the company rolled out shortly thereafter.
Kremer said e-mail addresses created at the new domains will have the same Yahoo Mail features users get at the original yahoo.com domain, including unlimited storage, integrated instant messaging and text messaging, spam and virus protection, and a country-specific e-mail account.
Yahoo will also help users transfer their e-mail and contacts to their new address and notify friends of their new e-mail address.
Yahoo has also reserved for auction e-mail addresses for charitable organizations. The company is working with auction partners eBay Giving Works and Auction Cause and will donate the proceeds to the The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Ocean Conservancy, The Point Foundation, Right to Play and World Wildlife Fund.
Those who would like to participate in the online auction may visit here.