I’ve been with Yahoo!, in one form or another, pretty much since the beginning (when they began life as a human-generated index of the then finite and mostly manageable World Wide Web). As a customer, as a blogger, and as a professional. Like most, I long ago moved to Google for modern web search. But I’ve been using Yahoo Mail nearly exclusively since the late 90s (never mind those two years of Hotmail and Mac.com experimentation and despite grabbing a Gmail account 11/04).
As changing homes is quite disruptive and I do quite like the ad-free Yahoo Mail Plus UI ($20/yr), I’ve tried to be patient while Google has run laps around the schizophrenic Yahoo. (Who else would kill the #1 web photo sharing site? And plenty of other initiatives I previously relied on.) But I’ve had enough.
Several things about Yahoo Mail in particular have irked me, leading me to Gmail fulltime. First and foremost, for no known reason Yahoo Mail search just stops working on a fairly regular basis. No results show. At all. Especially maddening when you consider Yahoo made its mark as a search engine. I’ve also repeatedly begged them for desktop IMAP, offering to pay more. But I’m stuck with the anachronistic, folderless POP. (Zimbra doesn’t count and, true to Yahoo’s ADD form, they’ve just unloaded it.) Then there’s the lack of security. Login SSL was a long time coming. And messages are still sent/received in the clear. I’m not dealing in state secrets, but why not just lock it down?
Given my complaints, you’d think I’d have made the jump from Yahoo to Google long ago. But Gmail isn’t without its faults. I’m perfectly content with folders and have never really embraced Web 2.0′s tags (aka labels). And Gmail is just ugly. At least with the default theme. But over the last year and a bit, both aspects have been addressed by Google. Labels now act a bit more like folders. And there’s a variety of (ninja) themes to choose from. Although, I generally roll with the Gmail Redesigned plugin/CSS skinning – as shown above.
Three features in particular have pulled me towards Gmail. For a few years, I’ve used my account part-time to receive Zatz Not Funny mail (and before that, engadget.com). Which was convenient, but still limited. However, Google recently beefed up their spoofing functionality by transmitting outbound messages via a host without the janky “on behalf of.” So, while I have one Gmail account, I’m actually sending/receive email from three distinct email addresses — two which have no relation to Google. And then there’s the fabulous Gmail+iPhone cloud syncing. Google licensed Microsoft’s Exchange services to push contacts, email, and calendar appointments to my handset. No more three way, serial web-computer-phone syncing for me. Lastly, Google made it real easy for me to migrate. By enabling Gmail to slurp in all my existing Yahoo Mail and kindly converting folders into labels.
So that’s about it for Yahoo and I. Other than the few months it’ll take to fully transition, I’m no longer using them for anything. Although we’ll continue to keep an eye on their Connected TV initiative.