Yahoo Mail rebooted

Written by Anand J | Updated: Jan 7 2013, 19:04pm hrs
YahooThe redesigned Yahoo Mail gives users faster and smoother email services on PC and mobile devices. (Reuters)
The redesigned Yahoo Mail gives users faster and smoother email services on PC and mobile devices. Can the internet company claw back the market share it is losing out to Google

Five months after Marissa Mayer became the CEO of Yahoo, the internet company has gone for a product makeover of its webmail, the first big move under the new regime. While this revamp has made the mail faster and intuitive, the key challenge is to claw back the market share it is losing out to internet giant Googles Gmail.

The situation has been accentuated as mails have become more on the go after the smartphone revolution. Googles operating software, Android is the most popular OS with 75% of the current smartphones sold using it. Google products like Gmail and the integrated Gtalk have an inherent advantage as they come pre-installed in these devices.

According to internet ranking company comScore, Yahoo is the leading email in the US and third worldwide, behind Googles Gmail and Microsoft Hotmail.

The look and feel of Yahoo Mail has improved and in many ways better than other webmails, including Gmail. Earlier Whats New used to welcome the user to the mail inbox and also lot of advertisements positioned all over. Now display advertisements will appear on the right side of the inbox. The advertisement will retreat with a single click.

Youve told us loud and clear that you want fewer distractions when it comes to email. You want to quickly login, communicate, and get on with your day, Mayer said in a post on Yahoos official blog. Weve redesigned the new version of Yahoo! Mail with speed in mindgetting through your emails is faster than ever before.

According to Vivek Sharma, general manager of Yahoo Mail and Messenger, the new mail offers 40% faster access from the logon screen to inbox, while composing messages is 10-15% faster. This will increase the productivity of millions of Yahoo Mail users, he says.

According to Sharma, the new mail was developed in two months keeping in mind three principles of fast, easy and anywhere. The company found that users were not using many of the features and tried keeping it simple, he adds.

The new interface provides users with more compose and read space. In mobile, the interface and usage is still better with an infinite scroll. The user interface across all the platforms is consistent, be it PC, mobile or tablet. This ensures that users will have the same experience regardless of the device they access Yahoo Mail from.

A simple swipe allows users to do all the major actions like starring important mails, moving to folders, delete and mark as spam from the inbox. With a single click, the left map with all the left side icons like folders, inbox, sentlike in a computer interfacewill be shown. All the attachments will come on top and the photos will open in a horizontal slideshow. While the storage on popular Gmail is 10 GB, Yahoo has retained the offering unlimited storage as was the case earlier.

The only product Yahoo seems to have cross sold is the Yahoo Search in the same mail search box on top. And when you Web search from inside the mail, it opens in a new tab. Sharma says that while this measure will reduce some revenue for the company, more time by visitors and more login will make up for that loss.

The company has simultaneously launched apps for Android and Apple phones, while the BlackBerry and Windows phone apps were missing. Windows app is available for PCs and tablets. Sharma says that the company will launch the Windows mobile app if the user base gets bigger enough to warrant an app. The mail is available in eight Indian languages, while the Android app also supports 19 languages. While the iOS and Windows currently support only English.

Experts point out Yahoo has been relegated as a secondary mail for many, while Gmail is becoming the primary account. An analyst who did not wish to be quoted said that Yahoo Mail has become a mail to receive notifications and spam.

Industry watchers feel that despite these changes to make Yahoo the primary mail is a difficult proposition. The transfer contacts, mail archives, information as well as friends on chat are something many users want to avoid. For instance Gtalk is integrated with mail on phones, which many users find easier to use on their Android phone. Before Yahoo loses more users they will have to bring Yahoo Messenger soon.

Analysts feel that while Yahoos new mail is an easier experience for users, it has to be seen whether this revamp will help gain market share. While admitting that spam control became an issue, Sharma denies that it is a Yahoo problem or it lost users because of that. The number of Yahoo Mail users have only grown. Engagement is also growing, he says adding that this is a key area of focus with Yahoo getting 18 million requests daily for new mail registration. We block 600 billion spam messages every month and in the last quarter, we have reduced spam by an additional 18%.

In fact it is one of the primary focus area of Yahoo India R&D centre in Bangalore, which contributed half of the Yahoos total idea submissions for patent review globally. The professionals here help the company in preventing abusive registration and spam in the new Yahoo Mail, according to Sharma.

Yahoo India, which houses more than 2,000 professionals, is the second-largest centre outside its Sunnyvale, California, headquarters. In the last few years, the internet companys India centre has transformed from being an inward looking R&D centre to a market-centric innovation hub. It has created products such as Yahoo! Movieplex, a video destination that allows users to watch full-length movies for free, Yahoo! Cricket, where users can follow cricket and play games.

Predictopus, an online game that allows players to make predictions for the ongoing tournament, besides launching India-specific initiatives like a website devoted to providing content on education. The Bangalore centres output in terms of intellectual property is increasing at a rate of 50%-60% every year. Local language-based content, video content and cricket are expected to be the key drivers in India.