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It may not be fashionable, but the big portal firm's thin email client is the wave of the future

July 14, 2006

2 Min Read
The Skinny From Yahoo

6:00 PM -- My email supplier finally gets to work on a decent mobile client -- and the beta results are more than encouraging.

Maybe this isn't cool or fashionable, but I use Yahoo Mail as my primary personal email. The spam filter is very good, and the beta version of the browser-based interface, which I've been using for a long time now, looks an awful lot like Outlook and works much the same way -- drag-and-drop, multiple folders and all. Sure, it's occasionally slow, and, as a beta version, has assorted bugs and irritations.

But it is a great thin-client email system regardless, and this is important to me, because I often need to get email from a variety of mobile devices, including my trusty but likely doomed Treo 650 (why it's doomed I'll cover later). Unfortunately, the WAP-based email client I've been using on the Treo is painful, and clearly a holdover from the first generation of WAP-based phones. But it does support folders, despite being slow and really, really clunky, and that's kept me from looking elsewhere. Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) also offers a "new and faster" downloadable client, but it doesn't support folders and has a bunch of bugs, like not being able to send mail! And at $2.99 a month, it's a serious rip-off.

So, imagine my surprise when I discover a new Yahoo Web-based beta mobile email client the other day. What an improvement! The entire screen is used, the interface is simple, folders are fully supported, there's a spam button and a search function, and it's much faster than the old WAP-based mess.

Attachments, though, are still a problem -- why not allow them to be downloaded? I have Documents to Go on the Treo, so this would be nice. And HTML-based mail is still in HTML, so work is needed here as well.

But it's progress, nevertheless. Thin clients are the future, and, for me, right now.

— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung

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