So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish (Yahoo!)

Dave Zatz —  February 7, 2010 — 18 Comments

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.

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18 responses to So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish (Yahoo!)

  1. I thought you’d never switch Dave ;)
    Yahoo has made so many bad moves over the years I fear for flickr. Honestly other than that I rarely use yahoo anymore even though I do still have an older e-mail account with them. Gmail is so much better it isn’t even funny.

  2. After my very first email provider went belly up during the dot com bust, I’ve been especially carefully about who I trust when it comes to email. Since it’s not the sort of thing that’s easy to change, I eventually decided to go with my own domains for my email needs because I know that it will always be there. While it may seem like a good idea to use Yahoo and Gmail for these things, you also lose some control over it. Hotmail for example puts ads at the bottom of emails which is less than ideal if someone does go professional. I also know a number of people who are on @comcast accounts, but won’t stop paying $50 a month for this exact reason. I haven’t really tried Gmail myself, but everything I’ve read seems to suggest that they are at the top of their game.

  3. Brent, I kept hoping they’d match Google’s forward motion. But they’ve done nothing significant/compelling to Yahoo Mail. Heck, the options pages still load up their old interface. Makes me wonder what the employees actually do.

    Migrating to Gmail also opens the door for me to easily move onto the Android platform… the Nexus One looks good, but the HTC Supersonic is even more compelling IF Sprint offers a reasonable priced WiMax tethering plan.

    Davis, If I had zatz.com I’d do dave@zatz exclusively. But I don’t want dave@ZNF or dave@davezatz as my primary domains. Who knows why. There’s tradeoffs with either method. But hopefully Google won’t be going anywhere and will continue to innovate here. (And I’m willing to pay to keep it ad-free.)

  4. Gmail had me at free IMap. Google Apps Gmail without the ‘on behalf of’ crap sealed the deal. IPhone integration/sync has been the fantastic icing on the cake. I can’t imagine ever moving off google apps gmail for email from all my domains.

  5. @Davis: Using Gmail (or Yahoo) doesn’t preclude people from having their own domain name and bouncing email to one of them (and then using the improved spoofing functionality for sending email that Dave mentioned). (And presumably if GMail or Yahoo ever do go belly up, they would give ample notice for their users to back up their existing mail.)

    I think there’s also Gmail for Businesses too which allows using custom domain names.

  6. I’ve been considering leaving Yahoo for many of the same reasons; your post is finally pushing to make the switch, too. Thanks for giving me the cojones to go through with it!

  7. Google for your domain is great. I use the free version for lots of stuff and setup clients DNS for it all the time. No fuss no mess easy for the users to understand and give extra accounts to family.

    I keep waiting for better gmail to get ported to chrome. I can’t stand it when it’s not skinned now. Make my eyes sad. I wish good would just buy the better gmail guys and roll in their UI design as base function. It’s just right.
    Though, that said they seem to have a lot of trouble making the good reader work right (marks things read when the article is barely on the page and it’s been broken for a good while now).

  8. I must be missing something, my gmail emails still give me the “on behalf of” to people using Notes and Outlook. Do you have to pay to remove the on behalf of?

  9. aflat, There’s no fee, but you need a host to relay your outbound email. The blog post I linked above (here, again) explains it.

  10. +1 for the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy inference.

    I am in the process of leaving Yahoo Mail as well ( been using it since 1998 ). Transition over to Gmail was cemented by its deep integration with Android. Oh well…

    Mad Hatter: Time marches on …its stomach!
    Alice: Its an army that marches on its stomach!
    March Hare: It doesn’t matter whats supposed to march on its stomach. Its time to move on.

  11. Bugger, I should have mentioned that I’m trying to send an email from 1 gmail address using another gmail address. You can’t set the smtp server when you’re sending using a gmail address. Doing a bit of searching this appears to be “just the way it works” Using multiple gmail accounts you still see the “on behalf of”

  12. Gmail UI is not ugly, give it time and you will realize just how good it is. Take Mailplane for a whirl on the Mac and Gmail is then perfect in my opinion, especially when you have multiple Gmail accounts!

  13. You forgot to mention the fact that Yahoo’s “New” mail client runs so terribly slow that everyone I know switches back to the Classic view. What a sad joke Yahoo has become.

  14. Stephen, Give it time? I’ve been using Gmail since 2004… ;) It’s not as cleanly presented as Yahoo Mail Plus. That’s a fact in my book. However, obviously there are tons of other benefits which I why I made the jump. Mailplane may be a good suggestion for aflat if he’s on OS X.

    GeorgeO, I’ve been OK with the speed New interface in light of the other enhancements. (And at this point, it’s not really new – which makes the Options in the old UI in separate tabs so silly.) However, Melissa has stuck with the Classic interface. Although, she’ll be changing her name shortly (!) and I’ve encouraged her to move to Gmail so she can cloud sync her contacts easily.

  15. i have been using mailplane since it was a free beta. Its one of the only apps i pay for, and suggest others its worth buying.

    its hard to get over the cost with the rise of Prism, but there are a ton of other features the Mailplane brings, like the mac service menu integration, drag and drop to the dock, menu bar icon, and handles multiple accounts very well too.

  16. wait, dave’s getting married soon? i too took the plunge, 9/23/2010…

  17. How did you get the a theme like that? Did you do that on your own?

  18. If you use Firefox, the theme above is partially delivered via this plugin (and the rest via their associated CSS, updated automatically):

    http://www.globexdesigns.com/products/gr/

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