Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Yahoo Updates Mail, Adding Native iPhone and Windows 8 Apps (Like We Said)

As AllThingsD previously reported it would, Yahoo has released a new version of its Yahoo Mail offering, updating its Web offering and also adding native mobile apps for Apple iPhone and Microsoft’s Windows 8. It also updated its Google Android app.

The new Web mail has a decidedly cleaner design and improved search, part of an effort to better compete with Google’s Gmail, which has taken major share from Yahoo in the arena in recent years.

In fact, one source told me that the aim was to be “more Gmail-like.” And, indeed, it looks like it is. Yahoo is also working on a radical rehaul of its homepage, which is set to debut in the coming weeks, although the Silicon Valley Internet giant has been rolling it out in testing for months now.

Redoing Yahoo’s flagship properties — especially to focus on mobile — is a key priority at the company under new CEO Marissa Mayer. She said in a blog post that the new Yahoo Mail will be rolled out to most users soon.

It’s an important step, as I noted in my post about the impending changes to Yahoo Mail, which got its last refresh a year ago:

At the time, the first change in five years got good reviews, with a cleaner design, Twitter and Facebook integration, improved spam filters and speedier delivery.

Unfortunately, since then, Google’s Gmail has become the most popular email service in the world, passing Microsoft’s Hotmail (which is now called Outlook.com after a recent rejiggering), according to recent stats from comScore. That has added up to Gmail’s 287.9 million monthly unique visitors worldwide, 286.2 million for Microsoft’s email product and 281.7 million for Yahoo Mail.

Still, in the U.S. at least, Yahoo is holding onto its longtime — though dwindling — lead, with 76.7 million using Google’s email product and 35.5 million using Microsoft’s.

It’s an important spot to maintain for Yahoo, since many of the users of its products now come to the site to access email and it has been a key driver to its content properties.

But to keep mindshare, Yahoo faces increasingly strong competition. Google’s Gmail released a series of solid improvements last fall. In addition, along with the positively reviewed Microsoft Outlook.com redo, AOL has just announced a new email product called Alto. While it is in beta to a small audience, it is aiming to help users with multiple email accounts organize them better.

In others words, the mail business — especially using it via smartphones and tablets — is another place Yahoo has to make sure it remains innovative.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google