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PayPal and Picnik come to Yahoo Mail

The latest partners in the Yahoo Open Strategy offer ways to help you make payments from your e-mail inbox--which might keep you inside Yahoo a bit longer.

New applications for Yahoo Mail, such as this one from PayPal, let you send money right from your inbox without having to visit PayPal's site.

Yahoo has added new applications for its users in another step toward giving its users more and more to do from within Yahoo.

The company plans to announce the limited beta of three new Yahoo Mail applications from PayPal, Picnik, and Zumo Drive on Friday. Yahoo Mail users who have indicated an interest in signing up for Yahoo's beta programs will be the first to get a crack at the new services, with the applications coming to the wider user base over the next several months.

It's all part of Yahoo's Open Strategy, designed to let outside developers tap into the company's properties and offer their wares inside Yahoo's network of sites. It's becoming an old story, but the trend these days in the Internet world is the proliferation of large sites like Yahoo, Google, and Facebook as development platforms unto themselves, with application developers spending more and more time writing programs that run on those sites, rather than traditional operating systems.

For example, PayPal's application will let Yahoo Mail users send money to another user by opening a window like a tab in a browser. Picnik, a popular browser-based photo editing tool, will bring that feature to Yahoo Mail in a similar way, letting you open the service right from an e-mail message.

Yahoo is also expanding the Open Strategy to other parts of its portfolio of sites. Wordpress bloggers will be able to post to their blogs from their MyYahoo page, and manage their money with Mint.com's services. And Yahoo TV Widgets will now support searching and viewing of archrival Google's YouTube video collection.

It's taken Yahoo quite some time to put these applications together, first announcing the Yahoo Open Strategy in April 2008 but not taking it live until last December, when it unveiled the first set of applications for Yahoo Mail and the MyYahoo start page. It also appears the company plans to wrap these applications along with forthcoming ones into a redesign of its homepage, which CEO Carol Bartz said this week would arrive "later this fall."

The idea is convenience: letting users get everything they need and want in one place. But the upshot is that by providing incentives to stick around on Yahoo, the company is making it more likely that you'll stumble upon something else at Yahoo, such as an ad or another service that drives a search query: 98 percent of Yahoo's searches come from people who are already on the site.