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Yahoo e-mail becomes more like Gmail in redesign

09 October 2013, 15:29

San Francisco - Yahoo's free e-mail service is becoming a bit more like Google's Gmail as part of its second makeover in less than a year.

The similarities to Gmail probably aren't coincidental. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer helped design some of Gmail's features while she was a top executive at Google. Since its debut nearly a decade ago, Gmail has grown into the world's most popular e-mail service.

Yahoo's redesigned e-mail includes a Gmail-like tool that will thread together e-mails related to specific topics so they appear as a succession of messages. The "conversation view" has become a widely used e-mail feature since Gmail helped popularise the concept after it embraced the format in 2004.

Users can turn off Yahoo's new conversational tool if they want.

Another new feature will enable Yahoo's e-mail users to decorate their inboxes with a selection of scenic pictures plucked from the company's photo-sharing service, Flickr. Gmail has been allowing its users to spruce up their inboxes with various themes for years.

Storage needs

When Yahoo's e-mail users choose a picture as their backdrop, the same look will automatically appear on the mobile e-mail applications that the company is modifying as part of the redesign. The updated apps are for Android devices, Apple's iPhone and iPad and tablets running on Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system.

In another change, Yahoo is now promising each e-mail account a maximum of one terabyte, or about 1 000GB, of storage. The Sunnyvale, California, company says that amount should be enough to cover the storage needs of its average e-mail user for about 6 000 years.

Yahoo had previously promised its e-mail users that they would never run out of storage, but it hadn't established a specific limit.

Gmail vastly expanded the capacity of e-mail boxes in 2004 when it rolled out its service with a limit of 1GB per account. At the time, industry-leading e-mail services run by Yahoo and Microsoft were limiting storage on their free accounts to 25MB or even less.

Yahoo's terabyte limit now dwarves Gmail, which has a per-account limit of 15GB that also includes material kept on Google's Drive and Photo Plus services.

Since defecting from Google 15 months ago, Mayer has been revamping many of Yahoo's services in an attempt to attract more web surfers and bring in more revenue from ads.

Yahoo's ad sales remain lacklustre at a time Google and Facebook are enjoying strong growth, but Mayer says the number of monthly visitors to the company's services has increased by 20% to 800 million people since her arrival.

Yahoo's last major overhaul of its e-mail service occurred in December. The company now has about 289 million monthly users worldwide, second only to Gmail at 304 million, according to the most recent data from the research firm comScore.

- AP


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