Yahoo Mail integrates Facebook, Twitter in overhaul; can it compete with Gmail?

Summary:Yahoo recently announced plans to revamp and roll out fresh updates for its free email service in the coming weeks. It's starting to make good on that promise with the integration of Facebook and Twitter features.

Yahoo recently announced plans to revamp and roll out fresh updates for its free email service in the coming weeks. It's starting to make good on that promise with the integration of Facebook and Twitter features.

So far, the latest version of Yahoo Mail has received the following upgrades:

  • Users can send/receive Facebook updates as well as Twitter messages directly from the inbox
  • Messages from contacts are given priority and raised to the top of the inbox
  • Easier to search for videos and photos
  • Recognizes links to and displays thumbnails of videos and photos
  • More vigilant spam filtration
  • Mobile site better optimized for smartphones and tablets
  • Improved overall speed and performance

Introduced last October, the beta program is slowing unraveling to full functionality to all 284 million users of Yahoo Mail. The Yahoo Mail subscribers who are truly going to benefit from these new features are those who own products made by Yahoo's partners - specifically Nokia and Verizon Wireless.

All of these features are certainly useful, but will it be enough to lure users away from subscribing to Gmail and other free Web-based email clients?  It's going to take some time to determine that, either based on specific user numbers or just an overall vibe amongst Yahoo Mail subscribers.

Nevertheless, it's hard to see Yahoo stealing anything away from Google at this point in any matter. There are already Twitter and Facebook apps on Gmail, and Google even went a step further with its own news feed in the form of Google Buzz. Although there have been some disputes about privacy (and where isn't there privacy debates in the realm of social networking?), Buzz has done quite well and is likely here to stay. (At least when compared to some other Google projects in the last few years. See: Google Wave.)

Additionally, Gmail (and other Google Apps) are being integrated on nearly any type of mobile device with the vast expansion of Android-based smartphones and tablets as well as with the Chromebooks rolling out soon. Yahoo Mail (like Gmail) can be integrated as a Pop account on most email clients, like Apple Mail on iOS devices.

But it's still nearly impossible to escape Gmail at this point, so there's almost no reason why not to have a Google account. Unfortunately for Yahoo, that just isn't the case.

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About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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