Yahoo Takes Aim At The Lifeboat

Over the coming weeks Yahoo will be rolling out the beta version of their new Yahoo Mail updates. The details are nicely covered in this CRN article, though I hesitate to agree with the article's slant that Yahoo is gunning for Gmail and Hotmail. The fact that the upgrade feature list is easily described in terms of the features that already exist in Gmail and Hotmail (i.e. nothing new or innovative), is a key indicator that Yahoo is actually just gunning to keep up. Keeping up means is keeping their user base happy, but there is nothing here to suggest that they are driving to increase their numbers and blaze a trail.
Not to take away from Yahoo's numbers (284 million users), but Google and Microsoft's presence in the world of cloud email is much more pronounced as of late. I know that when I see a Yahoo email address the first thing I think is "why are you hanging onto that old thing?"
This is actually a significant statement in the battle for users. Email has become such an important part of our day-to-day lives that it has created a barrier to change. The thought of moving all of my data and contact details, and informing all of my contacts of a new email address give me an instant headache, which in fact keeps me from being too interested in the advances of email outside of my Gmail world. If I get too interested in what the other guys are doing I might want to create that headache for myself.
Above and beyond email tools and storage, cloud integration will be the deciding factor for the next leg of the battle. Documents, photos, videos, music and everything else on your computer will become cloud based. Microsoft is using their hold on the desktop world to create a stronger offering with integration from desktop to cloud, though Google is working hard stay competative. Yahoo's lack of presence here will play a big part in their ability to succeed in the email battle.
For now, this release is significant to Yahoo's existing user base and uninteresting to the rest of us.

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