After an almost two year long public test period, Yahoo! Mail is finally dropping its beta status and is introducing a number of new features like the ability to send text messages to a mobile phone. This marks the most extensive overhaul of the web-based email service since it was launched a decade ago, in a move that looks to transform the email service into more of a social experience to compete with the likes of MySpace, YouTube and Facebook.
"Our goal is to make (Yahoo) Mail a more social experience," John Kremer, vice president of Yahoo Mail, said in a phone interview. "We really look at ourselves as sitting on top of the largest dormant social network out there."
Initially, the text-messaging feature will be available to Yahoo Mail members in the United States, Canada, India and the Philippines, but Yahoo! expects to extend elsewhere as it secures agreements with local mobile operators. The company said by upgrading the e-mail service technology it is laying the groundwork for adding more social-networking features later this year in an effort to boost both its usage and advertising growth.
Existing users of Yahoo! Mail will be prompted to upgrade, but the company will continue to offer its old e-mail platform, dubbed "Classic," for those that don't want to switch to the new version.