The techies have already dumped Yahoo Mail. It can’t afford to lose everyone else. Time to make a product that even Googlers would be envious of.
As TechCrunch points out, Google’s GMail has now passed AOL for third place among Web mail properties, with Microsoft’s Hotmail and Yahoo Mail next.
The biggest problem for Yahoo, as Daring Fireball’s John Gruber notes, is that while Yahoo Mail still has impressive market share, it has lost all mindshare.
There was a point when getting a Yahoo.com email address was cool. Now it bears the prestige and excitement of lunch at McDonald’s.
Gruber: Many of my friends — technically knowledgeable, demanding email users — use and love Gmail. None of them use Hotmail or Yahoo Mail. Raw user count is the wrong metric; Gmail has already won.
Google is like Apple in this way. It starts by taking over the premium end of a market.
This is terrible. Mail is crucial for Yahoo. Without its mail users, who show up several times a day, the Yahoo homepage — and its search bar, and media properties — will lose one of their most important audiences. If email goes, the rest of Yahoo doesn’t stand nearly as tall.
So we hope that now that Carol Bartz has figured out what do with search, she can get a team together to make Yahoo Mail a leader again. Switching email services is a pain, but people will do it. So there’s no time like now to fix Yahoo Mail.
We’re not huge fans of everything GMail offers, but much like Google Maps must be an inspiration to Yahoo, they need to take a hard look at GMail and strive to mail Yahoo Mail even better — so even the techies want to come back. Yahoo Mail feels way too much like a clone of late-90s Outlook Express desktop software, and not nearly enough like the 2009 Web.
They can start by making the portal cleaner and faster, and go from there. That may cost some revenue, but it’s better than losing users to Google forever. Even McDonald’s realised it had to serve better coffee to keep breakfast alive.