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The New MySpace Mail Quietly Emerges As A Big-Time Email Competitor

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23We’ve been covering the new web email project MySpace has been working on in stealth mode for the past several month. Now it’s ready to begin a quiet rollout today, in beta, for users around the globe.

Here’s why this matters: Right off the bat, MySpace Mail with a sexy new interface is a major player in the e-mail space based on sheer size alone. With nearly 130 million global users, it will enter the field as the 4th largest email provider in the world, and 2nd largest in the U.S. (see chart). And it’s being built on top of the MySpace Messaging service that plenty of people are already using a lot — it accounts for some 20% of MySpace’s site traffic, we’re told.

picture-203Here’s what else is nice: Because MySpace has had so-called vanity URLs since its inception (unlike Facebook, which just rolled out the feature), you can use those as your email address with the new MySpace Mail. So for a page that resides at myspace.com/techcrunch, the email would be techcrunch@myspace.com, for example. And, if you don’t like the vanity URL you currently have, MySpace is giving you the opportunity to change it to something else (assuming it’s available). This would also change your vanity URL for your profile.

So what’s different in this new version? Well, besides the obvious upgrades to the overall look, there’s a new Mail Activity Stream. This basically gives users a real-time view of what people you are having a conversation with, are doing on the site. The new MySpace Mail also allows you to embed photos in one step, and send music and video as attachments.

And like Yahoo Mail, MySpace Mail comes with an unlimited amount of storage space. Contrast that with Google’s popular Gmail, which limits to just over 7 GB (though it is consistently growing).

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We’ve talked about MySpace using Gears to do cool things with its messaging service in the past, and this new MySpace Mail will also utilize it to allow for power searching of mail.

So the big question is, how does it compare to what Facebook is offering? Well, as we’ve written before, Facebook mail has a lot of issues. Here’s how they stack up on some features (along with the other big guys):

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As we said, this new MySpace Mail will begin rolling out today in beta, and it will continue to reach users across the globe over the next few weeks. When you first see it on your account, you’ll be greeting by a walk-through screen (pictured above) to set it up for the first time. This is where you’ll be able to choose which address you wish to use.

Here’s the core functionality:

  • New Mail center provides a snapshot of all your mail activities including messages, sent messages, requests, and notifications
  • Send and receive messages from inside or outside the MySpace network
  • Unlimited file storage
  • One click to embed photos directly from your profile or desktop
  • Send and receive file attachments including music and video
  • Search within Mail using our Google Gears implementation
  • Check out friends’ activities in real time via the new Mail Activity Stream module
  • Address book that automatically saves your contacts

In terms of privacy, here’s what MySpace is saying about the product:

MySpace Mail is safe and reliable. MySpace has always taken a holistic approach to privacy and Mail is no exception. MySpace Mail empowers users to be as open or as private as they choose. Just like traditional mail, users can choose to receive messages from anyone whether they are in the MySpace network or not, while enhanced privacy features enable users to receive mail from only their MySpace ‘friends.’ Leading anti-spam technology and virus scanning ensure a safe, spam-free mail experience.

And here are a ton of screenshots:

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