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The future of e-mail

January 10, 2008

E-mail is the first online social network. And in the post “The end of e-mail as a sharing tool” I was completely wrong. I underestimated the ability of e-mail to evolve.

Yahoo is working hard to turn e-mail into a social tool.

Yahoo hopes that by adding new features, it can make its Mail application–which, with more than 200 million users, is the most popular Web-based mail service–a way for people to do more than check e-mail and delete spam. One new feature the company is working on will allow Yahoo Mail users to import lists of friends from some of their social networks. (In the demo, the social-networking sites MySpace and LinkedIn were the examples.) New Yahoo Mail software, Filo explained, will look through these networks and determine how often a user contacts particular people. From this and other data, the in-box will automatically sort your incoming e-mails based on the strength of the sender’s relationship to you. For instance, e-mails from the people you communicate with most frequently over MySpace or other services will be at the top of the in-box. “The other e-mails are still there,” says Filo; they just don’t appear at the top of the list.

From here. Long ago, my Yahoo mail account became my primary e-mail address. And of late, it’s been my social networking connection: when I get contacted in Facebook, Facebook tells my yahoo mail. When I respond to a post in a discussion board, and subscribe to that discussion, Yahoo mail tells me when people have responded to me.

Now Yahoo is working harder to make that all relevant for us. Making Yahoo Mail the center of my online social connections. That seems big news. Makes me happy we bought a little tiny piece of Yahoo.

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