RealTime IT News

Yahoo! Rolls Out Premium E-Mail Package

Yahoo! announced Thursday it would roll out a premium e-mail package that it hopes will turn users into customers by bundling together a variety of enhanced features.

The Yahoo! Mail Plus package, priced at $29.99 a year, follows on the recent test-marketing of a variety of premium services packages by the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based portal. Like the other Yahoo! Plus packages being tested, Yahoo! Mail Plus bundles together existing Yahoo! premium services, such as extra storage space, POP access, and enhanced attachment capabilities for sending multimedia files.

"The launch of Yahoo! Mail Plus is part of Yahoo!'s strategic initiative to offer premium services the deliver innovative, reliable and relevant services to consumers," said Geoff Ralston, a senior vice president of Yahoo! Network Services.

Yahoo! will market the premium e-mail service to current customers who want a more robust e-mail option, in addition to users of Microsoft-owned rival Hotmail. The service bumps up the e-mail storage space from 6 megabytes to 25 megabytes. Yahoo! currently offers 25 megabytes of storage on an a la carte basis for $19.99 a year.

The rollout of the premium e-mail service follows the company's quiet test rollout of numerous premium packages, under the Yahoo! Plus name. Last month, some users began receiving offers for a $9.95-per-month service with enhancements like a customized toolbar, anti-virus and spam controls, and an option to try out other Yahoo! premium services like games and auctions.

The premium e-mail service bumps up a sender's message size limit to 10 megabytes, with the ability to include up to 10 attachments from the current limit of three. Other new features include the option of archiving e-mail on a hard drive; the use of Outlook or another mail client to send and receive mail; the option to send messages using other e-mail domains; and the ability to block 200 addresses and use 50 filters to fight spam.

Yahoo! offered all of these as standalone services, but now packages them together for about half the price.

Since Terry Semel took the reins 18 months ago, Yahoo! has sought to add revenue outside of its traditional reliance on online advertising, in order to offset the prolonged downturn in the Internet advertising market.

In addition to revenue derived from its HotJobs unit, Yahoo! has used its technology infrastructure to roll out a number of paid services for companies, including Webcasting and a portal business. Yahoo! also struck a dialup and DSL agreement with SBC Communications.

The moves appear to have paid dividends, with marketing dropping from 76 percent of revenue to 59 percent in the company's recent third quarter.