Yahoo has taken the “beta” label off its new Yahoo Mail service. Here’s an overview from the Yodel Anecdotal blog. Arguably the most interesting aspect of the new features is the capability of sending text messages to mobile phones from Yahoo Mail.
As the Yodel Anecdotal blog points out, this enables a new form of intergenerational communication: parents sending text messages to their kids’ mobile phones from their traditional Yahoo email accounts: We already have great integrated instant messaging features in Yahoo! Mail, so adding text messaging was a natural next step. It’s an increasingly popular way to keep in touch, especially among younger users. In fact, 69% of US mobile phone users between the ages of 18-39 use text messaging (Harris Interactive, June 2006), and half of Americans age 18-25 say they sent or received a text message over the phone in the past day (Pew Research Center, January 2007).
While that’s an amusing anecdote/use case, it illustrates the larger principle of Web-mobile integration that will become standard — and increasingly strategic for companies like Yahoo. This SMS integration and the other upgrades being rolled out also help maintain Yahoo Mail’s dominant position on the desktop. (Yahoo Mail is a big source of display ad inventory for the company).
Techmeme offers lots of coverage and discussion.