The Failure of Yahoo Mail
Updated: Nov 19, 2018
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Article updated: 22 August 2018
This week we examine Yahoo, the internet heavyweight owned by telecommunications conglomerate Verizon Communications.
After encountering an issue changing a profile picture in a Yahoo Mail account which simply could not be resolved, we tried to look for a support contact information.
There was no formal or structured customer service support - hotline or e-mail address, to contact Yahoo directly.
After a quick search, the only option was to write in to a Yahoo forum and hope another user would respond to the problem.
Worse still, we later learnt that many others have been experiencing the same issue for years yet nothing had been done about it.
Clearly, Yahoo developers have overlooked some of the most basic functionalities of an e-mail service provider, - changing a customer's profile picture.
This also shows that Yahoo's staff and management probably do not use the same form of Yahoo Mail at work, thus they do not experience such problems that users face.
Determined to solve the age-old problem, we tweeted to @YahooCare who ignored our message.
A week later, we sent @YahooCare a direct-message on Twitter and they responded saying someone would be in touch with us.
Yet another week passed, no one had got back to us so we messaged @YahooCare again and they got someone to write back with generic instructions.
E-mails were exchanged with all the information Yahoo required and this time, over a week passed in silence. E-mailing Yahoo concierge felt hopeless due to their continual unresponsiveness and inability to solve a fundamental product feature.
One day, Yahoo replied and said their engineers were looking into it - indefinitely.
In 2016, Yahoo engineers had been working on the same issue - changing an account's profile picture.
Perhaps Yahoo's pioneer engineers had left the organisation years ago and the current employees were pretty much hopeless in solving even the simplest issues.
Zero response and support for customers just gives nobody an incentive to retain their mail account or search/ use any business of Yahoo.
Brief History of Yahoo Mail
Yahoo Mail was launched in 2007 shortly after the acquisition of Rocketmail, one of the first free major web mail services.
Yahoo chose acquisition over internal development at the moment as their biggest competitor of that time Microsoft's Hotmail was growing at a rapid pace every week and speed was crucial to the success of the launch at that time. It would have taken several months to develop internally and by that time they would have lost quite a sizeable chunk of the market share.
Good product, poor management
The Yahoo mail brand name is tainted. Although it has arguably one of the best e-mail user interfaces and design in the market, beating Gmail and Outlook hands down, it's service is deplorable.
Not to mention countless mail service failures in 2016, data breaches which left 1.5 billion user accounts in the hands of hackers during 2013 and 2014 and the complete lack of customer support - failing to follow up at all times.
Yahoo mail offers a Pro service for their app at USD$0.99 a month or USD$9.99 a year, yet they are incapable of a simple mobile app function - allow a user to change their profile picture, for their once highly revered mail system.
Without basic customer support and the failure to address even simple user interface issues, Yahoo is choosing to desert its sizaable 225 million ( February 2017, TechCrunch) monthly active users.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In February 2017, Verizon agreed to buy Yahoo's core business — which includes its internet search and email assets — for $4.48 billion.
Yahoo still lags behind digital advertising behemoths Google and Facebook, despite their increasing focus on mobile, social and video.
"The once-iconic tech company with over 1 billion total monthly users had only held 1.5 percent of the worldwide digital advertising market last year, according to eMarketer estimates." - CNBC
Despite falling headcounts, office closures and discontinuation of hundreds of products and features over the years, Yahoo's mobile revenue will naturally continue to grow, although much slower than their biggest competitors.
Scrolling through the countless negative feedback that remain largely ignored on the Google Play store, we find that the main reason why users are still hanging on to their mail accounts is because they have been using it for a long time - decade(s) and because it's a free service.
At this rate, Yahoo may lose new users who would turn to their competitors due to poor customer support. As a non-convert of Yahoo mail, one would be less likely to use other Yahoo products and services, especially if they are living outside America.
This would mean slow international market expansion for Yahoo while Google, Facebook and other mail and media competitors swoop in.
Latest update: 22 August 2017
Since early June when I got in touch with Yahoo, it had been relentless e-mailing back and forth. However, today I am happy to inform all that Yahoo concierge has resolved the problem of being unable to change my Yahoo profile picture on 19 August.
We would like to thank Amy from Yahoo concierge customer care team for her endearing follow-up with the team of engineers to finally resolve this issue and I hope millions of other fellow Yahoo users would be able to experience glitch-free e-mail and web services from now on.