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Yahoo Blows Roof Off E-Mail Storage

By Chris Maxcer
Mar 28, 2007 10:26 AM PT

In May, Yahoo will go to infinity and beyond. The world's largest free e-mail provider will give its 250 million users unlimited e-mail storage, up from its current offer of a single gigabyte.

Yahoo Blows Roof Off E-Mail Storage

After the system is put in place, Yahoo inboxes will apparently be impossible to fill. The offer trumps the storage capacities of rivals such as Google and Microsoft and heads off any competitor's future effort to one-up Yahoo by exceeding its capacity.

Google currently offers Gmail users 2.8 GB, while Microsoft has a 2 GB cap.

Yahoo will roll out the unlimited storage feature in May in a structured release over several months.

Rocket's Launch

Yahoo Mail got its start in 1997 after the company acquired RocketMail, one of the world's first Web mail products.

"I remember getting in a room to plan our RocketMail launch over a decade ago and worrying that our original plan of a 2 MB quota wasn't enough, and that we needed to be radical and double the storage to 4 MB per account!" says David Nakayama, Yahoo group vice president of engineering.

"It's ironic that I routinely send and receive individual mail attachments bigger than that now. Our total capacity for mail accounts back then was 200 GB for all of our customers. At Yahoo, we're now receiving more inbound mail than that every 10 minutes," he added.

Of course, Yahoo says it does have "anti-abuse" limits in place; if the company didn't have some controls, an enterprising prankster could surely set up an e-mail program that would automatically send a Yahoo account endless amounts of junk data until it finally found the end of "unlimited."

Is Unlimited E-mail Really Important?

"It does position Yahoo e-mail in a place where you have one less concern," Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld. "The requirement to store that much e-mail is pretty low, but it's definitely increasing. People don't like to throw stuff out."

The more interesting point, Enderle added, is that if you work for a company, you're always having to manage storage limits.

"It's something that is front of mind, that running out of storage is a pain in the butt, and so by doing this, Yahoo addresses a concern you probably have -- but a need you may not have," he noted.

Overall, it's a well-timed announcement, Enderle noted, because the cost of the service to Yahoo won't be nearly as great as the perceived benefit to Yahoo users.

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