Yahoo up to 25MB attachments (soon!)

7 09 2009

It looks like Yahoo is going to update their mail system once again….

http://www.ymailblog.com/blog/2009/08/an-enhanced-yahoo-mail/

From what I gather, it looks like everyone will have 25MB e-mail attachments (same as Gmail now) and a more re-organized mail window for starters.  Attachment limits are not a huge deal to me since I don’t send massive e-mail attachments (1MB at best) but I imagine this will mean a lot to those who send gargantuan e-mail attachments.  The re-organized window in Y!Mail also looks much cleaner than I’m used to.

On that topic, I don’t see anything that was wholly wrong w/ Yahoo to begin with but it looks like they’re just refining and refinding their service to compete w/ Gmail.  This is truly one of the best things about our Internet ecosystem–big technology companies are competing to give us (the end user) the best free e-mail address they can.  Granted, in return there are some drawbacks (ie. ads ads ads) but somehow we don’t mind buying a big-screen TV set to watch movies and (you guessed it) those pesky advertisements in-between.  I’ll bet if you averaged it out, you spend 20% of your TV watching just sitting in front of a commercial…..so how is e-mail any different?

One thing I will point at and wave my finger is Gmail.  Before I start, I will say that I both have and use Gmail; in fact, I have two Gmail accounts–one personal and one university via Google Apps.  I think Gmail is a really, really, really (repeat another 5 times) good e-mail system–it’s fast, fairly reliable, and does what it advertises (pun?) to do.  However, I do not use Gmail as my primary e-mail source, that job goes to Yahoo (and MobileMe prior to that).

I don’t like Gmail very much–there, I said it. That’s not to say it’s the worst e-mail system out there, in fact I’ll save my rant about Apple’s MobileMe for another time, but for now I’m going to just talk about Gmail.

Gmail is really good at aggregating the content of my e-mail for the purpose of serving me advertising.  Granted, I had my tin-foil hat out in the beginning and thought that Gmail was out to profile its users and read each/every e-mail, I’ve since put it away and accepted it; “if it’s good enough for the University system, it’s good enough for me!” is my motto.  However, this still doesn’t mean I have to like it.

First of all, I find Gmail to be very…….bland, cold, and uninviting–it’s almost too utilitarian for my taste.  In Gmail, there’s plenty of white-space, text, and that’s about it.  When I open my e-mail, there’s a nice list of links and advertisements based soley on the data provided to Google from the content of my e-mail.  I used to joke about this w/ a friend of mine who is also a Gmail user by sending him e-mail w/ words like rogaine, hair loss, and ED treatments at the very bottom, and he’d get links about medical hair restoration.  The funny thing is I’m the bald one but I still got a kick out of it.  Anyway, I digress….

Second, while ads are a necessity in these days of free e-mail, it should not have to be based on the content of my e-mail.  Privacy issues aside, no-one likes to have their e-mail read (even by a computer) but this is not just for spam protection.  I understand spam protection and have no issue w/ a computer reading/scanning my e-mail for the purposes of spam, but using that same data to aggregate advertisements is just plain annoying (if not questionable).  Sorry, I use Gmail but not as my primary for this purpose–it really says something when the University account I have has the ads turned off….it makes you wonder what legalities (if any) there are for keyword aggregating in an academic environment.

Third issue is IMAP support.  Gmail’s IMAP support just plain sucks, and you do get what you pay for in this sense.  Gmail’s POP3 support is probably the best of any provider (web or otherwise) because it will archive any e-mail sent through Gmail’s SMTP server onto the server (giving you a little bit of IMAP support in a POP3 setting); however, client-side IMAP support interferes with Gmail’s labeling system immensely.  Moreover, there is NO WAY to unsubscribe specific IMAP folders in Apple Mail (as of this writing).  I turned off IMAP and went w/ straight old POP3 the 2nd day I tried to use it w/ Gmail.  However, Gmail support for the iPhone is pretty good (sans Push notification).  I would not recommend Gmail to anyone who prefers a true IMAP experience.  My university Gmail account is the only one I use w/ IMAP on Gmail, and it took me several days to get it set up just right, but there are still quirks (Archive vs. Delete) that get in the way at times.

Gmail is really good at e-mail, but that doesn’t mean it makes me “want” to e-mail…. Yahoo, on the other hand, makes me want to stay in my e-mail for a few more minutes….read/write/respond, and then leave it.  I think I’m about as geeky as they come, but I regret to say that I think Gmail is too geeky for my taste (like Linux).  I’m a Mac user, so I see things through the eye of a Mac owner–if it is not drop-dead simple to use, then it’s not worth using.  I’m not saying Gmail is too advanced for me to use, but I find it too rigid of an e-mail environment if that makes sense.

Yahoo Mail always seems to play well w/ others, and in my experience seems to have less downtime than Gmail.  In the world of Y!Mail vs. Gmail, I’ll go w/ Yahoo Mail over Gmail.

Lastly, if Yahoo does one thing really well, it has to be Mail.  If Google does one thing really well, it is most-definitely search.  There are some things that one will obviously do better than the other, and vice-versa, but I think it’s safe to say that one should never try to out-Google….Google, or out-Apple….Apple.  In other words, listen up Yahoo and/or Google….play to your strengths, it is a method that will always serve you well.  After all, Y!Answers dwarfed Google Answers into extinction while making Google the largest search engine on the Internet.

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