The FINANCIAL — Continuing the momentum of the Yahoo! Open Strategy (Y!OS),Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO)on December 15 introduced enhancements to Yahoo! Mail, providing consumers with a "smarter inbox" experience that will begin rolling out to users on a limited basis over the coming months.
This next generation of Yahoo! Mail is part of the company's ongoing effort to deliver more personally relevant starting points on the Web by integrating social functionality and opening products up to content and services from outside of the Yahoo! network.
The Yahoo! Mail smarter inbox experience is the company's largest-scale implementation of its Y!OS initiative, bringing to life Yahoo!'s open and social efforts in its consumer products. Yahoo! Mail is a place where millions of people start their day, prioritize their daily activities, and continually check in to stay connected with and informed about what matters most to them. The goal of the next generation of Yahoo! Mail is to address the changing communications needs of consumers by streamlining access to the most relevant and useful information, and helping users to become more productive, all from within their inbox.
According to Yahoo!, the smarter inbox experience features a new Yahoo! Mail Welcome Page which surfaces messages, information and activity updates from people users care about most, as well as an updated inbox and folder view that filters messages from those personal connections. The smarter Yahoo! Mail inbox also gives users immediate access to relevant third-party applications that can leverage the user's email content, calendar and contacts with the user's permission.
Smarter Inbox Addresses Consumer Needs
Among the challenges Web users worldwide face today are inbox overload and the growing inefficiency of managing information across multiple Web sites. Consumers spend between 10-15 hours online per week, an increase of 72% since 2004.1 The volume of email received by consumers has increased significantly as well, with nearly 100 billion email messages sent daily worldwide2 — a number that is expected to increase by 27% in 2011 to 124 billion.3 The smarter inbox experience addresses these issues.
Yahoo! Mail's smarter inbox addresses these issues by providing a filtered view of the users' messages and by bringing applications from across the Web right into Yahoo! Mail. New features include:
Connections: Users can "connect" with others using Yahoo!'s universal profile service and designate the people whose messages and activity updates are most important to them.
Filtered View of the Inbox and Folders: Yahoo! Mail users can now view a prioritized view of the inbox and folders based on their connections.
New Welcome Page with Messages from Connections and Updates: Users receive a preview of messages from their connections, see connection suggestions made by Yahoo!, and have the ability to send and receive connection invitations. Users can also see activity Update feeds from their connections, including activity across Yahoo! and, in the future, across the Web.
Applications and Gallery: Users have new ways to communicate and be more productive, with new communications applications included in Yahoo! Mail's left-hand navigation panel. Developers from the Web's top brands will soon have the ability to integrate their services right into Yahoo! Mail.
"Yahoo! Mail users have told us that they want to be more productive when they get to their inbox and they want help breaking through the clutter and getting to the communications that matter most to them," said John Kremer, vice president of Yahoo! Mail. "We've created a smarter inbox experience to address the problem of inbox overload. We're also embedding really useful applications directly into the inbox, which should help people be even more efficient when they get to Yahoo! Mail."
Updates Feed inside Yahoo! Mail, Across Yahoo!
People today are communicating and connecting with others in various ways, from email, to blogs, to real-time status messages. Yahoo! Mail users will now become more engaged, on multiple levels, with the connections they have in email. These privileged online relationships enable social communication and sharing experiences and will extend beyond Yahoo! Mail, helping users discover a more relevant and compelling experience across all of Yahoo!'s services.
For example, the Updates feature brings together various forms of communication in one place and allows users to stay up to speed on a range of their connections' activities and interests and provides richer social experiences across Yahoo! and across the Web. The initial integration of Updates into Yahoo! Mail will include user activity related to new connections, the universal Yahoo! profile, Yahoo! Buzz, and Yahoo! properties such as TV, Music and Travel. Third-party Web sites can also integrate their users' activity streams with Yahoo! Updates using the Yahoo! Social Platform and developer APIs or via applications deployed through the Yahoo! Application Platform into My Yahoo!. In the coming months, users can look forward to seeing additional activity updates from services across the Web.
Open Applications Inside Yahoo! Mail
In addition, Yahoo! has started a limited beta test bringing third party applications into Yahoo! Mail. Features allowing users to communicate in richer ways, to share media with their friends and families, and to get things done faster will be accessible to beta testers in the U.S., and additional applications will be added throughout 2009 as the service becomes generally available. Initial applications include:
Family Journal: build a family tree inside Yahoo! Mail and easily share with relatives.
Flickr: share Flickr photos with friends and family right from the inbox.
Flixster: share movie show times, trailers and reviews instantly from the inbox.
WordPress: post photos, links, and more from the inbox to a WordPress blog.
Xoopit: see and share all the photos stored in email, including attachments and links to photo sharing sites, in one organized 'photo view' of the inbox.
Yahoo! Greetings with American Greetings: use the autocomplete email address feature to send an ecard seamlessly from Yahoo! Mail.
Developers to Benefit from the Smarter Inbox
As part of the Yahoo! Open Strategy to open up to third party publishers, developers, and advertisers in the form of global platform services, the Yahoo! Mail smarter inbox experience adds to the transformation of the Yahoo! Network and serves as an unprecedented distribution opportunity for developers to share their innovative applications with Yahoo! users worldwide. Yahoo! is working with developers from across the Web to integrate their products and services into Yahoo! in 2009 and beyond, and Yahoo! Mail adds a major new footprint for developers that will only continue to grow.
In addition to these new features and functionality for Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! separately announced today several other product updates that demonstrate ongoing momentum for the Yahoo! Open Strategy. These include providing My Yahoo! users with the ability to add third-party applications built on the Yahoo! Application Platform, a preview version of the new Yahoo! Toolbar that enables constant access to friend Updates and essential Yahoo! and third-party applications as people browse the Web, and the surfacing of relevant Yahoo! Updates based on user activity on Yahoo! TV, Music and Travel.
Smarter Inbox Availability
Select Yahoo! Mail users in the United States and Australia will begin to experience the social features of the smarter inbox experience, including the new Welcome Page, inbox and folder-view enhancements, and connections and Updates functionality beginning today. A more limited group of users based in the United States will begin beta testing the open applications today. Yahoo! plans to bring together the social and open features into Yahoo! Mail in the first half of 2009.