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AlBlue’s Blog

Macs, Modularity and More

Seeya! Yahoo!

2009, iphone

Leaving Yahoo! behind is a sad day in a way, like leaving a girlfriend with whom it’s just not working out. Let’s still be friends, you say, in the knowledge that the chances of a reconciliation are slim to non existent.

Having been using the free web since the early days, and starting out with hotmail.com (and even bigfoot.com) mail addresses, some of which may still work, Yahoo! became the default mail address (and web account) I used for several reasons:

  • Yahoo! Games allowed me to play bridge, when I should have been working on my MSc
  • Yahoo! Messenger was the first (decent) replacement for a talk (and follow ons ntalk and ytalk) chat client across the internet at large
  • Yahoo! Mail wasn’t owned by Microsoft (which was a good reason for giving up on Hotmail in itself). Oh, the spam filtering was pretty good in comparison to the junk that came through in Hotmail’s inbox.

Sadly, though, as with much of life, things tended to go flat. Yahoo! messenger managed to go from a market leader to an also-ran just by being gratuitously closed (even to the extent of intentionally breaking third-party applications like Adium). At the same time, I found less and less time to play bridge (both in the virtual and real world) and whilst I’ve never really had a problem with Yahoo! Mail, it has remained pretty stubborn in terms of interfacing with the outside world.

The game changer, as with much else in the internet, was the arrival of the Google services. Google Mail was the starting point, and Google Talk’s use of XMPP became instantly available in products like iChat. I never ran Yahoo! Messenger again. Oh, there’s been some Mac-based clients for Yahoo!, and open apps like Adium have fought the cat-and-mouse battle between the protocol and the application, but ultimately it was Yahoo!’s closed-ness that pushed me away. In fact, for a long time, the only advantage of Yahoo! mail over Google mail was that the former could open multiple windows(or tabs) which made for much easier reading of the Eclipse-related bugs that came my way.

Ultimately, it was Yahoo!’s change of mail to their ’new-and-improved’ beta, which initially one could opt out for but recently became the default default to which there was no return. So my one reason for using Yahoo! mail over Google mail was finally vanquished, and I changed my Eclipse bugzilla account to use my Google mail instead of my Yahoo mail.

Frustratingly, my iPhone has had perfect ability to interact with my Yahoo! mail. For whatever reason, Yahoo! decided to partner with Apple for the launch of the iPhone (push) mail services, which meant one-click setup of Yahoo! mail was available from my iPhone. Read messages could be used to sync what had been already read/processed, forwarded to others, and so on.

Except I can’t access it from my Mail.app desktop. Why not? Because Yahoo! doesn’t include an IMAP connection. Or rather, they do, as long as you want to pay for it. Why I can access my mail from one device, but not use it from another device, completely eludes me. I can access my Gmail fine from both my Mail.app, my iPhone, and when I’m not able to use either of them, a web-based interface as well. I’ve got triple-play access to mail. The same is also true of iChat/web-chat, and even (to a lesser extent) on the iPhone via Google’s gTalk for iPhone page (and if you unlock it, via background apps as well).

Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with Yahoo! mail itself, and it might suit a certain kind of person still. But it wove its own seeds of destruction a long time ago (longer ago, even, than the ill-fated decision to go/no-go/maybe-go Microsoft) by providing a one-size-fits-nobody approach to their services. After all, keeping customers hemmed in never really succeeded; instead, make it an open, transparent place and you get the customers. In this case, customers are eyeballs to the Google advertising universe, and even though I use my Mail.app client (and iPhone app client) a lot, I still do visit the Gmail website probably several times a week; a lot more than I now go to Yahoo! mail.

So, farewell, Yahoo! mail. It’s not me, it’s you. I hope you grow gracefully older, and I’ll always remember the time we had together, and I wish you all the best.