By Eric Auchard
Yahoo Inc. , the world's largest consumer e-mail provider, on Monday
said it has embedded instant messaging features inside its e-mail
program, bridging a generational divide that has confused many users.
Heavy Internet users, especially younger, Web-savvy users of social
networking sites or office workers, have long toggled between e-mail
and instant messaging services.
But for more occasional users of consumer e-mail services, the allure
of instant messaging has remained far from obvious.
Consumers can now run the two programs in one Web browser. There is no
need to download Yahoo Messenger software, a complication for users
who are not technically inclined.
Each instant messaging dialogue will take place in a new conversation
window within Yahoo Mail, allowing people to chat with multiple
friends simultaneously, without leaving e-mail.
John Kremer, vice president of Yahoo Mail, said in a phone interview
embedding instant messaging makes e-mail "an even more social
experience" -- by transforming how one communicates from a
letter-writing experience into a back-and-forth chat.
"We are hopefully bridging the gap between e-mail users and IM users,"
Kremer said. "There is still a chunk of Yahoo Mail users who aren't
Yahoo is in effect moving the mountain of its 250 million Yahoo Mail
users by eliminating the elusive technical distinctions that have
separated the two modes of communication and limited the appeal of
instant-messaging among many users.
To guard against overwhelming its network, Yahoo plans to steadily
upgrade all Yahoo Mail users in coming months.
Yahoo is not the first to blend the immediacy of instant message with
the greater depth allowed by e-mail communications: Google Inc.
incorporates its Google Talk messaging system inside its G-mail
program, while Microsoft's e-mail service alerts a user when e-mail
recipients are also on instant messaging. It then allows the user to
send messages to either e-mail or instant messaging recipients.
"By allowing users to jump between the two modes of communication, we
are laying the groundwork for other types of communications," Kremer
said, referring to features like Web phone-calling that are already
part of many IM services.
Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited.
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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: So, now in order to avoid having a mail
reading/writing session rudely disrupted on account of some users
being too damn dumb to not be able to toggle back and forth between IM
and email, those of us who dislike the constant interupptions by the
kiddies who are always breaking in to ask 'are you m or f, how old?',
our choice will be to drop Yahoo Mail totally, I guess. Actually,
that's not a bad idea anyway. One of my geneology groups there,
'Townson Family' has been dirtied up repeatedly now for several months
by idiot spammers. Which reminds me to inquire of John Levine and
Margy: I just recently went back and reviewed a decade-old book they
authored entitled "Internet for Dummies", and re-listened to (on tape)
the section on 'sending and receiving email'. How quaint! Written in
1995, they were writing about a SINGLE (or maybe two spammers) in
existence, and steps people could take to not get caught up in
spamming. John, if you were to re-write "Internet For Dummies"
today, would you re-write any of your advice from 1995? PAT]