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Commentary: eGroups acquisition will extend Yahoo's influence

The portal giant's acquisition of the community-enabling Web service highlights the company's desire to extend its influence further beyond the browser.

By Whit Andrews, Gartner Analyst

Yahoo's acquisition of eGroups, a community-enabling Web service that specializes in email lists, highlights the portal giant's desire to extend its influence further beyond the browser.

eGroups claims 800,000 email groups

See news story:
Yahoo buys email list service eGroups in stock deal
and 17 million members; Yahoo claims 145 million involved users worldwide.

Yahoo usually acquires companies not for brand or traffic but for substantial infrastructure--particularly in areas where consumer information will reside. Automated mailing lists constitute one such area, and eGroups claims to have handled some 3.6 billion messages in March 2000.

It is important to consider such email lists not solely as an email tool but as a tool to support asynchronous messaging among user groups, however.

Yahoo Clubs, Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Messenger already allow Yahoo members to communicate. The company's decision to add eGroups indicates a conviction that email lists differ from the other aspects of electronic contact. A hint to how they differ appears in Yahoo's indication that eGroups will contribute to its newly announced small-enterprise portal program, Corporate Yahoo.

eGroups' mailing lists will probably serve Yahoo as a sort of intermediate stage of communication between the deep affinity available to club members--those who share photos, calendars and interests, for example--and the ephemeral, narrow affinity represented by one-to-one communication via messenger and email.

eGroups' functions will no doubt connect people with intermittent interests, such as inter- and intra-enterprise committees. It also is likely to be integrated into Yahoo Store functions as an advanced email marketing feature for which customers will pay extra.

(To read an interview with V.A. Shiva, founder and CEO of EchoMail, that explains the science behind intelligent email response systems, see TechRepublic.com--free registration required.)

Entire contents, Copyright © 2000 Gartner Group, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.