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Yahoo!'s purchase of Oddpost firmly underscores their webmail strategy, leaving RSS questions open - July 12, 2004

We in the IMAP email business have been eyeing the machinations of Gmail and Yahoo! carefully, waiting to hear if any major players will enter the IMAP business. We know they've trumped part of our strategy with the large storage capacity (sure, we go up to 3 gigabytes, but we're not free). But we still win on the ability to download your email and work offline without fear.

The purchase of Oddpost seems to open a window into Yahoo!'s thinking: with what is purported to be a sophisticated Java script-based webmail interface, Oddpost will bring power and Gmail-like ease-of-use to Yahoo!'s email service. We RSS watchers, on the other hand, are wondering if the RSS reader in Oddpost will be an interesting entrant. Yahoo!'s RSS reader is clunky, counter-intuitive, and simply not a significant competitor in its current form. But combining webmail with RSS could rival services like Bloglines. Only time will tell.

The size of the purchase, reportedly around $30 million, indicates that Yahoo! is looking to integrate many of the functionalities quickly, and before Gmail opens its doors to all comers. I'm interested to see how it works, but pleased that, thus far, Google and Yahoo! are leaving IMAP well enough alone. If IMAP with gigabytes is what you want, you'll still have to come to Big IMAP to get it.