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Yahoo! Mail Users Get Second Chance at No. 1 Email Address

Believe it or not, Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO  ) did more than just report earnings this week. It also gave investors -- and Yahoo! mail users -- a glimpse at a bit of the synergies it's been promising for years.

On Tuesday, Yahoo! announced on Tumblr (which it bought earlier this year for $1.1 billion) that at some point in the near future, Yahoo! mail users may get a shot at winning the email address of their dreams.

Ever since the dawn of the Internet, early adopters have rushed in to grab primo email addresses for themselves when a new service opened, leaving later adopters to pick through the trash of unwanted email monikers such as "albert93099."


Of course, not all these adopters actually used the email addresses acquired in their land-grabs. They just wanted to keep them "handy" in case the urge to use them should arise. Yahoo!'s now trying to fix that.

Marissa Mayer: Miss Fix-it
On Tumblr, Yahoo! announced the opening of a new Web page where Yahoo! mail users can post wishlists of their top five most-desired email addresses. Users may already have a Yahoo! mail address, of course. It's just not the one they want. So to better match customer-wants with corporate-need (for more traffic on its website), Yahoo! intends to comb through its records over the next few weeks, figure out which popular email addresses have become orphaned by their owners, and reclaim them for redistribution to more worthy parents.

After matching up wishlists with available names, Yahoo! will email users who've submitted their wishlists, informing them of which email addresses have become available -- and giving everyone a second bite at the apple, to win the email address of their dreams.

Risk and opportunity
Like any exerciser of eminent domain (get it? "domain" names?), Yahoo! risks alienating the early adopters of the email addresses it is redistributing. The hope, though, is that these folks probably weren't very active Yahoo! mail users in the first place (otherwise their addresses wouldn't have become orphaned). The hope also is that the new owners will appreciate Yahoo!'s move more than the old users hate it.

More importantly, Yahoo! has taken a big step here toward regaining the innovation initiative from more successful Internet rivals such as FacebookMicrosoft, and in particular Google. Lately, Facebook has been the new kid on the block, offering up all sorts of new e-widgets to its users such as the now-open-for-business Graph Search. Microsoft actually restarted the email address wars with its launch of earlier this year, putting a new batch of primo email addresses up for grabs. Google has had widely publicized problems with digital dopplegangers getting each others' mail addressed to too-similar email addresses -- and now Yahoo!'s CEO is sticking a finger in the eye of her old employer, with a move designed to give users a reason to switch back from Gmail to Yahoo! mail.


What next?
Yahoo! says it will begin notifying Yahoo! mail users of addresses that have become re-available sometime mid-August -- so keep your eyes peeled. Recipients will be given 48 hours to claim their most-desired Yahoo! mail address, assuming it's become available. Wait too long, however, and you'll miss your chance at the email address of your dreams... again.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (3)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On July 18, 2013, at 12:39 AM, kornishpastie wrote:

    Who (or what) put a bee in Yahoo's undies to allow them to dismantle one of the few things that millions of subscribers used and appreciated: The Yahoo! Mail Classic e-mail program? Heck, they didn't even ask anyone's opinion -- they just did away with one of the simple things on the internet that worked and was very comfortable to use and understand. What a mean-spirited thing to do to people!

  • Report this Comment On July 21, 2013, at 1:55 PM, beecharmer4 wrote:

    I agree with kornishpastie. I can no longer find important emails under the new yahoo program. Before there used to be a tab where I could look at emails only from contacts! Now those are all mixed in with the junk and subscriptions.

  • Report this Comment On August 08, 2013, at 2:34 PM, thechicagoloop wrote:

    I agree with the previous posters. I don't care about Yahoo's more feminine logo or their future abilities. I just want my simple email back to send and receive simple emails. If I want more complex files, then I can use dropbox, etc. But don't expect them to listen. They have been ignoring the complaints for years now. That's why I am going to Gmail.

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