Yahoo Opening E-Mail Code

Yahoo used its recent “Hack Day” to springboard its opening of substantial chunks of code to software developers, highlighted by the application programming interface (API) of Yahoo’s widely-used Web e-mail application.

Yahoo said the Web application code release — aimed at spurring new interfaces and other features, and ties to third-party applications — was among the biggest ever opened to developers, and would be generally available by the end of the year.

“This one is really exciting,” said Yahoo developer Chad Dickerson in his blog.

Mix and Mashup

The availability of Yahoo’s e-mail application code represents an effort to leverage the company’s popular online portal and e-mail service, which Yahoo claims has more than a quarter of a billion users worldwide.

Interarbor Solutions Principal Analyst Dana Gardner told LinuxInsider that Yahoo’s audience is clearly among the largest in the industry.

Yahoo’s release of code also comes at a time when “mashups” — the combination of two or more applications or interfaces — are becoming more and more popular for the likes of eBay, Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo, which encouraged other e-mail providers to follow suit.

“We’re seeing a burgeoning seduction to other ecology players and their developers,” Gardner said. “They’re trying to take advantage of services from their portal.”

More to Follow?

Yahoo, like Google and Microsoft, may be attempting to make its popular Web portal a platform for Web services that include not only its own applications, but also third-party software and services for sales, marketing and more, Gardner claimed.

“It’s a trend Google’s been aggressively on, and now we’re seeing others step up to bat,” he noted. “In a way, it’s ‘me too,’ but if anybody can take a leadership role after saying me too, it’s Yahoo.”

While e-mail may be a good place for the Yahoos and Googles of the world to start, Gardner added, he would like to see more opening and integration of calendar applications, which would deliver a significant production benefit to business.

Enterprise Aspirations

Similar to the way instant messaging (IM) has been popularized by consumers and adopted by businesses, the likely objective of Yahoo and others in opening code is to appeal to small and medium (SMB) businesses and larger enterprises, Grey Consulting Principal Analyst Maurene Caplan Grey told LinuxInsider.

“Once you open up an API, it allows other vendors to enter, and it becomes a more attractive service for SMBs and eventually enterprises,” she said.

Rather than mashups, Grey continued, Yahoo, Google and Microsoft are focused on monetizing their e-mail and other services to appeal to more lucrative markets.

“Once again, this is the neverending battle of these three vendors trying to move beyond the consumer space,” she said, adding that the companies are aligning themselves to offer more advanced Web services and new business models, including software as a service.

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