Yahoo Revamps E-Mail, Increases Storage

Yahoo has upped its free email storage to 100 megabytes, and is giving paying customers 2 gigabytes. The defensive moves are part of Yahoo’s efforts to hold onto customers as competitor Google’s prepares its 1 gigabyte free Gmail service for wide release.

In addition to upping storage, Yahoo gave its Web-based email service a new look and feel. The new design also appears influenced by Gmail in that it features more rounded edges and also increases the prominence of search capabilities. Yahoo says it’s also improved the speed of the email search — a clear effort to undercut Google’s value proposition for its Gmail service.

Part of Yahoo’s new look involves the deletion of graphical ads from its Plus premium email service. Google has drawn fire from privacy advocates for the ads in Gmail, which are targeted based on the content of email messages. Yahoo’s free accounts will continue to display ads.

Though Yahoo hasn’t changed anything about its spam and virus scanning capabilities, the company is using the redesign as an opportunity to remind users of these services — areas critics have identified as Gmail weaknesses. Yahoo is also trumpeting the integration of its mail program with a calendar function — another feature Google lacks.

“With the new Yahoo Mail, consumers won’t have to think about mailbox size,” said Brad Garlinghouse, vice president of communications products at Yahoo, in a statement. “When they judge Web mail value, they’ll continue to look at all the things that make Yahoo Mail number one — including privacy practices, superior spam and virus protection, and integrated calendaring and alerts.”

The 2 gigabyte storage limit will automatically be applied to all of Yahoo’s Plus users, which will now be charged $19.99 annually. Previously, Yahoo offered several tiers of service, priced from $29.99 to $49.99 and offering between 25 and 100 megabytes of storage space. Users of Yahoo’s co-branded ISP service, offered with SBC, will also receive the 2 gigabyte limit.

Though Google hasn’t yet taken Gmail out of beta, recent weeks have seen the company offer current testers increasing numbers of “invite a friend” opportunities. The company has also begun inviting its AdWords advertisers, which it says number around 150,000, to test Gmail.

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