Yahoo Promises Unlimited E-Mail Storage
Yahoo Inc.'s free e-mail service will provide unlimited storage space to its nearly 250 million users worldwide
(San Francisco) In another reminder of technology's quantum leaps, Yahoo
Inc.'s free e-mail service will provide unlimited storage space to its
nearly 250 million users worldwide -- a concept that seemed unfathomable
just a few years ago.
With the move, Yahoo will trump its two largest rivals in free e-mail,
Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc., which currently provide 2 gigabytes and
2.8 gigabytes of free storage, respectively.
Yahoo's e-mail users currently get 1 gigabyte of storage. Yahoo plans
to gradually lift all space constraints in May, but it will take several
months before all of Yahoo's e-mail users have infinite storage space.
Time Warner Inc.'s AOL, the fourth largest e-mail provider, began offering
unlimited storage for free last summer.
Yahoo's commitment will require substantially more resources because
its e-mail service is nearly five times larger than AOL's.
"We're psyched to be breaking new ground in the digital storage
frontier by giving our users the freedom to never worry about deleting
old messages again," John Kremer, a Yahoo vice president of mail,
wrote in an announcement posted late Tuesday on the company's Web site.
The expansion represents a dramatic shift from Yahoo's e-mail philosophy
just three years ago. At that time, Yahoo was offering as little as 4
megabytes of free storage and charging nearly $50 annually for 100 megabytes
But Google changed the competitive landscape in April 2004 with the introduction
of Gmail, which initially offered 1 gigabyte for free before steadily
expanding to its current limit of 2.8 gigabytes.
Yahoo and its rivals have been willing to spend millions of dollars on
adding storage space because they consider e-mail service a powerful magnet
that spurs frequent visits, and thus more opportunities to sell ads. And
the cost of storage has been declining for years, making it even easier
to give users more space.
Meanwhile, e-mail's ubiquity and the proliferation of digital media --
from photos to music -- has increased the demand for more storage.
When Yahoo began offering free e-mail 10 years ago, the capacity of the
entire service topped out at 200 gigabytes. It takes about 10 minutes
for Yahoo's incoming e-mail to devour 200 gigabytes of storage today,
Sunnyvale-based Yahoo said its offer of infinite storage is meant to
celebrate the 10th anniversary of its e-mail service. But the decision
also comes a month after Google posed a more serious threat to Yahoo by
dropping the final remnants of Gmail's invitation-only restrictions and
opening up the service to all comers.
In February, Yahoo's e-mail attracted 243 million visitors with Microsoft
in second with 233 million visitors, according to market research firm
comScore Media Metrix. Gmail ranked third with 62 million visitors, a
68 percent increase from the previous year, followed by AOL at 50 million,
Yahoo's expansion will be largely irrelevant to many e-mail users who
haven't come close to approaching their current limit.
That's one reason why Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft has no immediate
plans to match Yahoo's offer.
"Storage has not been a major issue or pain point for customers
for years now," Microsoft said Wednesday in a statement.
Mountain View-based Google has been adding about 145 megabytes of free
storage to each e-mail account annually -- a pace that would raise storage
limits to about 3.27 gigabytes in three years. The company has no current
plans to change that formula, Google spokeswoman Courtney Hohne said Wednesday.
In an interview last month, Google co-founder Sergey Brin indicated the
company would probably begin charging a small fee for people who want
even more e-mail storage.