Reports from unnamed sources say that Yahoo is planning a dramatic overhaul of Yahoo Mail, which will leave the email service looking more like Gmail. Yahoo is also reportedly working on a redesign of its home page, which is already being tested with users.
Kara Swisher from All Things D broke the story, writing, “According to sources close to the company, Yahoo is prepping to launch a major overhaul of Yahoo Mail — which sources said has a cleaner, ‘more Gmail-like look.’ I am not clear exactly what that means in terms of features and design. But sources said the goal of the redo — which has been initiated by new CEO Marissa Mayer, who is also pushing ahead with a new homepage design — is to better compete with the fast-growing mail offering from Google. ‘Marissa thinks Yahoo Mail has been a big missed opportunity for the company and she wants to fix that,’ said one person with knowledge of the effort, which had also been mulled by previous CEO Scott Thompson.”
CNET’s Charles Cooper noted, “Even though the company released a new Mail service in May 2011 with new social-networking features, Yahoo continues to trail Google’s Gmail and Microsoft’s Hotmail in a tight race for e-mail provider dominance. In data for October released by ComScore, Gmail saw 287.9 million unique worldwide visitors during the period, edging out Hotmail, which finished with 286.2 million unique visitors. Yahoo — the once mighty e-mail power — came in third with 281.7 million. Yahoo, however, holds a comfortable lead in the United States with 76.7 million, compared to second-place Gmail with 69.1 million and third-place Hotmail with 35.5 million.”
Revamping Mail isn’t the only project in Mayer’s sights. In late October, Business Insider’s Nicholas Carlsonreported, “During her first earnings call as CEO of Yahoo on Monday, Marissa Mayer said that she wants the company to focus on products that users will make a part of their daily habits. Multiple sources tell us one of her biggest efforts toward this goal is something code-named ‘Project Homerun’ – a redesigned Yahoo homepage.”
Carlson added, “Sources tell us that Yahoo will begin rolling out a version of the redesign to between one and two percent of its U.S. users starting November first. Then it will go through at least another four weeks of testing and analysis. Finally, Yahoo plans to roll out the new home page to everyone in the U.S. ‘no sooner’ than on December first, ramping availability from two percent to 100 percent in 10 days.”
TechSpot’s Rick Burgess noted that some users have already seen a new version of the Yahoo home page, “which appears to draw inspiration from Windows 8’s Metro UI: large, differently-sized tiles which scroll left and right.” He added, “Notable modifications expected to make it into the final design include new icons, a reduction in the number of text links, more social integration and an increase in personalization options.”