Services & Software

Yahoo Mail to get 'Minty' freshen-up

The latest reworking of the Web-based e-mail client is planned for this fall, and is designed to speed performance and curtail a drop in users.

Yahoo is planning to unveil this fall yet another revamp to its Yahoo Mail service to address a drop in users and improve the product's performance overseas where Net connections tend to be slower.

As part of a project code-named "Minty," Yahoo plans to juice up the performance of its Web-based e-mail service and bring its look in line with simpler iPad and Android versions of the Mail product, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

"We have been previewing our next version of e-mail that provides higher performance, sleeker design, and great integration" with social-networking sites, a Yahoo representative told the Journal.

Though it's the No. 1 Web-based e-mail product in the U.S., ahead of both Gmail and Hotmail combined, Yahoo Mail has recently watched its user totals slip, according to ComScore figures quoted by the Journal. The service has seen:

  • a year-over-year drop in U.S. users from 107 million visitors last August to 97 million this August,
  • a worldwide year-over-year drop in users of 7 percent (while Hotmail has seen 3 percent growth and Gmail has enjoyed a healthy 22 percent spike),
  • the loss of its No. 1 spot in India to Gmail, which had 24 million users there in July, to Yahoo's 21 million.
Yahoo is also aware of the threat posed by social-networking juggernaut Facebook. According to ComScore, U.S. Web surfers spent more time on Facebook in August than on either Yahoo or Google. And Facebook users can easily sidestep Web-based mail services to communicate with each other.

Yahoo has been trying to address the situation through a partnership with Facebook that's included giving Mail users the ability to update their Facebook status messages directly from their Yahoo in-box. Google, too, has taken such precautions.

Yahoo is also threatened by the rise of mobile devices based on Google's Android operating system, which are often preloaded with Gmail, the Journal said. Yahoo announced Android apps for its Mail and Messenger products this past July. As for the iPad, Yahoo Mail has long been one of the few built-in e-mail clients on the iPhone, and Yahoo clearly wants the service to remain relevant on Apple's new groundbreaking device. A rejiggered version of Yahoo Mail was released for the iPad in August.

"Yahoo Mail is an incredibly important part of Yahoo," former Yahoo executive David Karnstedt told the Journal. "Not only does mail drive a ton of user engagement, but it accounts for the majority of the available advertising space in Yahoo's network."