announced that Yahoo Mail now has free unlimited email storage space, and today Yahoo has announced an API for Yahoo Mail. Earlier today I spoke with Chad Dickerson, Head of Yahoo! Developer Network, and John Kremer, VP Yahoo! Mail, to find out more.The Yahoo Mail news is coming thick and fast this week. Yesterday they
The Yahoo! Mail Web Service is, in technical terms, a SOAP web service that allows developers to connect to and utilize the Yahoo Mail platform and data. It was previewed to Yahoo! Hack Day attendees last September. There are restrictions on its use. But basically for premium Yahoo Mail users, the API allows access to perform typical mailbox tasks such as list messages and folders, compose and send messages. For free users, developers can build mail preview tools with limited Web Service functionality.
The high level nutshell is that third party developers can, using the the API, build mail tools or applications on the same platform that Yahoo uses to serve 249 million Yahoo! Mail users. Which opens up the potential for a huge user base, if you manage to create a popular mashup using the mail API.
mashup of Yahoo! Mail and Flickr (screenshot to the left). It won 'Best Mail Hack' at September's Hack Day. Check out this screencast for an explanation of how this was put together using the API. The mashup lets you send a Flickr postcard, via Y! Mail.An early example is a
In our discussion, Chad also mentioned a search app that allows more sophisticated search of your mail. You could also create an email backup application, as another example. There are more 3rd party apps in the Yahoo Gallery for Mail and Yahoo is of course hoping 3rd party developers will contribute others.
Here's a screencast which explains more about the API, which is useful especially for developers wanting to try this out.
Note that Yahoo is also providing commissions for third party developers, so they can earn money off their creations. Specifically, Yahoo! Mail provides a commission of $10.00 for every new Yahoo! Mail Plus account referred by developers. They've also teamed up with Commission Junction to provide third-party tracking, real-time reporting and monthly commission checks.
All up, this is another great example of a big Internet company 'opening up' their platform and (to some extent) their data, to enable more creative mashups and new apps to be built on top of it. Yahoo is certainly doing more than both Google and Microsoft in this respect.
Flickr postcard, via the Yahoo Mail API