partial recall

a blog of ideas, links, and musings.

The Free Email Service Wars

IDG News Service reports that Yahoo! will expand its free email service storage to 1 GB per customer, exceeding Microsoft’s Hotmail and matching Google’s Gmail service.

I’ve used Yahoo’s service for many years now. My initial decision was done partially to spite Microsoft’s Hotmail service (I am a big Mac fan). However, Yahoo! has moved all over the place in the last few years. For instance, here’s what happened to my account over the last few years:

  1. Started with 5 MB of space and free POP access
  2. Lost POP access – had to pay $19.95/year for that feature
  3. New accounts went down to 4 MB of space
  4. Yahoo added more storage (25 MB, then 100 MB, now 250 MB)
  5. Announcement that Yahoo will provide 1 GB of storage starting in late April/early May

A few years back I was a sucker and decided to pay the $19.95 just so I could have POP access (Hotmail already offered free POP access). I wasn’t a fan of the web interface and didn’t like being forced to constantly sort, organize, and remove unwanted emails for fear of exceeding my storage limit. On the other hand, I hated downloading emails from my Yahoo! account to my local computer’s email program and then needing that very same email later when at a different computer.

Then I saw that Google was offering “invites” for its Gmail email service (Beta). While Microsoft offered 2 MB of storage and Yahoo! offered 4 MB, Google offered an unprecedented 1 GB of storage! Needless to say, I decided to check it out and found myself very impressed. Here are just two of the advantages I find with the Gmail service:

  1. Much faster to access email using Gmail over Hotmail and Yahoo!
  2. Much better “tagging” feature. Email services such as Hotmail and Yahoo! only allow you to organize your email into one category or folder. However, Gmail allows you to create multiple tags and apply them to the same email.

For instance, let’s say I registered for Blockbuster’s online DVD rental service. I want to keep all online registration information in a “registration” folder. However, I also want to organize all emails from Blockbuster into a Blockbuster folder. Gmail allows you to “tag” an email more than once so you can easily find the email later.

Now, within the last few weeks, Yahoo! unveiled many more redesigned web services to complement its email service. Since I already had a Yahoo! account, I decided to look into the My Yahoo! feature set. I have to say, I am quite impressed. They do a good job at allowing novice web users create their own personal information management portal. In fact, the service also includes news aggregation features by making it easy to subscribe to weblogs and other information items that use RSS and Atom feeds.

So, now we as consumers have many options. I think I am migrating to Gmail for my peronal communications and leaving Yahoo! email for my more public (purchase, etc.) communications. However, in my opinion the My Yahoo! thing is worth a serious look for beginners and experts alike.

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