Yahoo is announcing that all Yahoo Mail users will have free unlimited email storage starting in May 2007. The current storage limit is 1 GB per account (2 GB for $20/year premium users). With this change, Yahoo leapfrogs Gmail (2.8 GB and growing) and Live.com Mail (2GB). Yahoo mail currently has 250 million global users, more than any other online service (Live.com has 228 million and Gmail has 51 million users). See this feature by feature comparison of the services for more information.
I spoke with Yahoo’s Vice President of Mail, John Kremer, this afternoon about the announcement. He says the new storage limits (or rather lack of a limit) affect all Yahoo mail users, not just users of the new beta product.
Users are subject to Yahoo’s abuse policies, which requires users to follow “normal email practices” and not engage in activities like using Yahoo mail for basic online storage (a number of services have popped up to help people use Gmail for this purpose). Abusive accounts will not be summarily deleted – users will be notified by Yahoo and/or accounts suspended, but users will still have access to the data.
Kremer says they want their customers to be satisfied and happy with the new unlimited storage feature. Users who have paid $20 to upgrade to a premium account to get 2 GB of storage will be able to get a refund if they request one.
Interesting historical information: Yahoo mail will be ten years old soon. When it launched in 1997 it included a whopping 4 MB of total storage. This was increased to 100 MB in 2004, and 1 GB in 2005.
Is Yahoo Mail now the best webmail product? Not in my opinion, even with this announcement. It has the best and fastest user interface (although many users prefer Gmail), but does not support IMAP, and POP access and forwarding are premium features (Gmail offers POP access and forwarding for free). Gmail also allows tagging of emails, a feature I find extremely useful for organizing archived mail. Still, the Yahoo Mail team seems up for a fight, and their massive lead over Gmail isn’t going anywhere soon. My bet is that more features are coming soon.
Update (related): Good post by Zoli on how to move all of your archived mail into Gmail.