The Web-based email wars aren't nearly as interesting as they used to be. Now they yield only an occasional skirmish, like we've seen today: Yahoo!
Yahoo!'s new unlimited email storage (previously, users were capped at 1 gigabyte) does have a few caveats. For example, people can't take undue advantage of the service, such as starting up businesses that offer unlimited storage through Yahoo! Mail. Also, Yahoo! isn't extending the offer to China or Japan as of yet.
Yahoo! co-founder David Filo pointed out that now Yahoo! Mail users will never have to delete emails again, but to be fair, that's been Google's reasoning with Gmail all along. (It says it right there on Gmail's start page: "You'll never need to delete another message.") You've got to hand it to Google, though -- it did see the future coming, where people exchange massive amounts of large data files on their computers, such as photos, music, and videos. That has most certainly come to pass.
This news may sound revolutionary, but Yahoo! isn't the first to offer this perk -- Time Warner's
Google's a bit behind the game at this point, since it offers 2.8 gigabytes (and counting, of course) of storage with Gmail, although the average Web-based email user probably hasn't even come close to maxing out an account yet. And of course, what feels like a perpetual beta for Gmail and the fact that it only recently did away with the invitation-only element of the service has made me wonder if it had already lost too much ground to Yahoo! Mail, which remains the most popular provider of Web-based email, with about a quarter of a billion users.
It should be interesting to see how rivals respond to this latest tactical move, particularly Google. After all, come April 1, it will have been three years (a long time, in technology) since Google entered the fray and changed the game with Gmail. Will Google take it all lying down? Will it come up with a new innovation, at some point, since you can't beat "unlimited"? Will it even emerge from beta? We'll have to wait and see.
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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned but encourages readers to forward this article regardless of e-mail affiliation. The Fool's disclosure policy gets along with everybody.