Yahoo China to cease e-mail service

Alibaba Group says Yahoo China's e-mail service will shut down on August 19, and advises users to start migrating their data to its alternative e-mail service called Aliyun.
Written by Cyrus Lee, Contributor

Yahoo China will cease its e-mail service on August 19 and has advised users to register for an account with Alibaba's e-mail service, called Aliyun, to retain their data.


In an announcement Thursday, titled "Yahoo China's e-mail services start overall migration on April 18, 2013", Alibaba Group said Yahoo's e-mail service will only remain available for the following four months. The Chinese Web giant owns Yahoo's operations in China.

With an Aliyun account, Yahoo China e-mail users will be able to retain e-mail messages and continue to receive e-mail sent to their Yahoo Mail account even after it ceases operations in August. However, this e-mail redirect will only be supported until December 31, 2014. 

The announcement comes as Alibaba prepares to reduce its dependence on Yahoo's global infrastructure. 

Zhang Jianhua, Yahoo China's public relations executive, told Chinese media the company's e-mail services were supported by the U.S. headquarters' global unified mailbox-based systems. As mutual agreements between both companies only allow Alibaba to use the system for four more years--from 2012--the company is making moves now to give users options as early as possible, Zhang said.

Chinese media, however, suggested the termination of agreement between the two companies played only a minor part of the cease of service today. They pointed to Yahoo China's diminishing market presence.  

Over the past six years, the market share of e-mail service providers have altered dramatically in the country. Five local services providers including Tencent and NetEase had seized majority share, while Yahoo China slumped to sixth position, according to Hitwise data.

The data also showed that termination of Yahoo China's e-mail services will only affect 2 percent of e-mail users in the country. Market share of Yahoo's e-mail service in China has continued to shrink over the past 12 months to its current 1.9 percent. 

Alibaba in 2005 sold 40 percent of its stock to Yahoo in a US$1 billion deal to acquire the latter's China operations. Last year, the Chinese Web giant bought back half of the stake Yahoo owns for US$7.6 billion as it preps for its initial public offering


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