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Yahoo tests home page that adds outside services like e-mail

Random users in a handful of countries are testing the new page

By Heather Havenstein
September 18, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Yahoo Inc. has begun testing a new home page that will allow users to check for new e-mail from multiple accounts and add more content from the Web.

Yahoo -- which is testing the new page with randomly selected users in the U.S., the U.K., France and India -- said Wednesday it has added a dashboard area that will allow users to preview their favorite Yahoo and non-Yahoo services, including Yahoo Mail, AOL Mail, Gmail, weather forecasts and local events.

"The Web has evolved to keep us in constant communication, but this also means we are continually receiving e-mails, text messages, RSS feeds, tweets and IMs. Keeping up can be a struggle," Tapan Bhat, Yahoo's senior vice president of front doors, communities and network services, said in a blog post. "We plan to add plenty more preview applications in the future, so that you don't have to spend as much time jumping from site to site just to stay plugged in."

Specifically, Yahoo said it plans to add more content from across the Web to the site and eventually will add information about what a user's contacts are doing across Yahoo and the Web. The company also plans to open the site to its Yahoo Application Platform so that external developers and publishers can submit their own preview applications to be featured on the Yahoo home page.

Michael Arrington, a blogger at TechCrunch, noted that because 314 million people visit the Yahoo home page each month, any change will "ripple broadly" across the Internet.

While third-party services such as e-mail would be a key addition to the home page, Arrington pointed out that Yahoo opted to "leave Microsoft out of the party," with no support for its e-mail offerings. He noted that Yahoo said it may add integration of new items on the home page from third-party sources such as the San Jose Mercury News and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Arnold Zafra, a blogger at Search Engine Journal, said that the new home page looks cleaner and uncluttered in comparison with the existing page.

"It reminds me of Google's MyAccount home page," he added. "Although, the success of this new home-page design would still depend on how fast it will load up -- even at the slowest Internet connection speed of any user."

Andy Beal, a blogger at Marketing Pilgrim, predicted that the home page could be well received.

"It still retains the 'push' features of news, entertainment, sports, etc., but also adds some 'pull' options such as e-mail, weather, photos," he added. "iGoogle and Netvibes (which is what I use) might be a little too geeky for Yahoo's average user, so a blend of the old with the new could be a good recipe."

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