Not long ago, having an hotmail email account with a couple of MB storage space was the only option left for users who wanted the flexibility of Web-based email. Then came Yahoo with a host of others features like photos, briefcase, messenger, personal website to name a few. A couple of more similar services came into the picture. But things changed dramatically during the DotCom burst. Many popular services either closed their services or converted them into fully paid services like USA.net. A handful of services still offered free services reduced their storage space and also set a limit for the size of the attachment and almost most of them stopped POP access to the mail also.
All these things changed completely some one year back. Yes, when Google launched GMail. Google easily pushed back the leaders in the email service like Hotmail and Yahoo. Though Yahoo some how coped up with it, Hotmail was fully thrown out of business. One of the reasons for initial success of GMail was due the fact that it was available only through invitation. So having a GMail account was a kind of pride together with its 1 GB of space. This was one of the reasons for me to move completely to GMail somewhere in July 2004. Soon GMail became the top story in most of the news channels and also in the blogsphere and Google was clearly leading the competition.
To stay in the competition Yahoo have also started adding new features like 250 MB of space (they even have a plan to give 1GB of space), a sleek layout, auto-complete for address fields to name a few. And Google have been adding features like auto-forward to any email address, free POP access, basic HTML site for older browsers etc.
Off late, Yahoo started to lead the race. One of the main reasons for that was due to the positive environment created by its employees in their blogs. (Om Malik also feels the same way in his blog) Notably Jeremy Zawodny and Russell Beattie. Even Jeremy Zawodny was talking about it in his blog. This created a huge positive image about Yahoo in the blogsphere. Google somehow got lost in this race and got itself a negative image in this blogsphere when it fired its employee Mark Zen for disclosing some sensitive information about Google.
Yahoo has now stated using the buzz word all under one roof by giving a host of services under one account. For instance their new service Yahoo 360 is one such example. Even accruing flicker has helped Yahoo regain its popularity. Jeremy Zawodny also speaks about it in his blog.
April 1st was GMail’s first birthday. So Google has started adding more features to GMail. The recent ones being 2GB of storage space and HTML formatting. So what will be Yahoo’s reaction for this?
So, what is the impact of the clash of these giants? Is it good or bad? But one thing is for sure, this competition has given the users a lot of options to choose from. The web-based email services have seen more features and invocations in the last one year than in the last 10 years or so since their invention. This goes with the saying “Necessity is the mother of invention”. Both of them know that the users have lot of options to choose from, so they will be working very hard to stay in the competition. So the real winner of this race is the users who are using this service. Now they can expect to get the best of both worlds – Google and Yahoo.