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The Almighty Buck

Charging Does Help Yahoo Make A Profit 251

Posted by Hemos
from the well-duh dept.
Meshach writes "The globe and mail has an article about how yahoo is starting to charge for their email service. Payment is not mandatory but if you don't pay you have many restrictions on your accont. It says that while many are angry about the change enough people are paying that it is helping Yahoo rebound from their slump. This seems like a recent trend in e-business." The conventional wisdom around web stuff that's been free, but converts to pay is that "they die off, no one wants to use it anymore etc etc", but I think what people fail to realize is that for many businesses, less people is *just fine*, if those people are paying.
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Charging Does Help Yahoo Make A Profit

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  • Privacy Policy? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Psx29 (538840) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @10:35AM (#4685417)
    I hope that yahoo! does not have the same lax privacy policy for paying customers as for non-paying customers
    • by Twirlip of the Mists (615030) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Saturday November 16, 2002 @10:38AM (#4685432)
      Why should you care about Yahoo's privacy policy? You didn't give them any real information, did you? I thought every Yahoo user lived on 1313 Mockingbird Lane in Beverly Hills, CA, 90210 and had the phone number 212-555-1212.
      • Re:Privacy Policy? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by gothamNY (473289)
        How in God's name could that be considered insightful? The original poster mentioned PAID subscribers -- meaning ones that provided their credit card information which is accompanied by address, expiration date, etc. If THAT information is as well guarded as the 1313 Mockingbird Lane information as a paying subscriber I'd be nervous.
        • Re:Privacy Policy? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by whereiswaldo (459052)

          Exactly. I'm a paid Yahoo mail subscriber and I'm sure they give my information out to everyone under the sun. I didn't realize that way back when I signed up. Now that I've fully read their agreement, I think it stinks, and that's stopped me from going with Yahoo's other services such as DSL or Yahoo auctions.
          Yahoo provides a great service -- I don't know why they feel they have to invade your privacy *and* take your money. Because of this, I may not renew my email service next time around. But still, it's better than Hotmail.
      • You also gave them Bill Gates' Visa 4154 2512 2231 5521 10/28?
      • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @10:58AM (#4685529)
        This Yahoo user is called Sir Mudge Pinkerton-Bottomley and lives at 42 Bonkalot Street, Didjabringabeer in Western Australia, and his phone number is 9221 1111 (which is coincidentally also that of the Western Australian Police).
      • Re:Privacy Policy? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Yahoo doesn't let you pay for "value-added" services by money order, cash, or even by cheque -- I've asked them. They only accept payment by credit card. As a consequence, anyone paying Yahoo for e-mail or other services needs to trust Yahoo's famous privacy policy. (You might as well send a cc: Tom Rudge, Secretary, Dept. of Homeland Security with every Yahoo e-mail you send).
      • My phone number is 911-555-1212. Still wondering whether any telemarketers have called me.
      • Re:Privacy Policy? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Xenius (626318)
        While I understand and appreciate the humor behind your post. I think the parent post might have meant something along the lines of email address selling. In the article that was posted recently about "The Spam Queen" I beleive it was mentioned that yahoo sells it's email address database. I really don't think a paying user should be subjected to this, and if they are I don't think they should pay.
    • I signed up for Yahoo Mail long ago, and did give them real info. At the time, the world was a more trusting place.

      Now, the world is a darker place, filled with spammers, and giant databases. I deleted what I could, and unchecked where it mattered.

      I am happy that I didn't sign up for Hotmail. Ugh. That's just a ticking time bomb.

    • Re:Privacy Policy? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by grumpygrodyguy (603716) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @12:32PM (#4685961)
      I hope that yahoo! does not have the same lax privacy policy for paying customers as for non-paying customers


      The really interesting part of all of this is that when Yahoo first started, thier service was exemplary. They were effecient, thoughtful, smart, and they implemented a host of useful resources.

      Then, like the vast majority of the dot-com companies, the VCs and big-business types pulled the wool over the eyes of the original founders(people like Jerry Yang). Or, put another way, the original founders sold out. After that happened(about 1 year before the dot-com crash) Yahoo's service has continually degraded. That's about 2 years of constant monotonic degradation of service. Now they're insisting on customers paying for a service that was taken for granted 2 years ago?

      Understandably the dot-com business model has all but evaporated in the face of diminished advertising revenue. (Ad companies are paying 1/10th what they used to per ad). This coupled with the fact that the stock inflators have all left town or gone broke, pretty much means that Yahoo has very little to go on. This of course is true of almost all the .com's, as the majority of them relied on advertising for revenue. (except sites like e-bay, etc. who are doing fine in this kind of environment).

      It's very unlikely that any of this will change, as consumers are more and more fervently seeking out products that will block advertisments. The latest batch of "pop-up" style advertising techniques has pretty much buried any respect the advertising industry ever had in the mind of the consumer. Said another way, advertisers are paying less and less per ad because they percieve how ofter those ads are being avoided. In turn they insist on "eyeball time" and make even more hostile ads. This in turn increases the consumers anger, and the customer finds even more effective ways to block out all advertisements. It's a cycle that bears very little hope for the advertisement based web-business model.

      I would suggest that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. But it requires the vast majority of us to embrace 2 distinct technologies. Wireless broadband [wired.com], and Peer-To-Peer file-sharing, HTTP, and computing [javaworld.com].

      Those are big hurdles, but in conjunction they appear to be within our grasp:

      1) Wireless broadband means buying a dedicated commodity unit for ~$150(before prices drop) that will provide 10Mbps 24/7(does your telco/cable co offer this?). Most importantly, there is no monthly cost...goodbye $50/month to Bell X.

      2) P2P transfer of not only files, but also dynamic content like webpages. This would involve a dramatic paradigm shift away from the current client-server model. But with > 100 10Mbps nodes per square-mile in urban areas, and intelligent caching, there's every reason to suggest this is possible.

      The client-server model that the "old internet" has relied on is broken. The ad-revenue cycle is destroying quality of service, shutting down many good sites permanently, and we're losing vast quantities of content in the process.

      Currently 99% of the server load is on 1% of the connected machines. Leaving the other 99% of the client base Idle. A small investment of ~$150(about the price of a 2nd harddrive, or a new soundcard) could change all of this. Then those 99% idle client boxes could become very powerful P2P nodes.

      This is not the distant future folks, it just takes a catalytic moment to get everyone to buy that 802.11X card. It happened to CD-ROM drives, sound-cards, etc. sooner or later a new standard component is adopted. Then the folks at Dell etc. will include one in every standard box they sell. Hopefully this will happen sooner rather than later. Then the OSS/private sector can build HTTP over P2P(challenging, but not impossible within this infrastructure).

      I'm sincerely hoping all of this happens soon, because many great web-sites are going down, and we're losing a lot of good content. There's less and less in that Google cache every day, and we need to change that.
      • by Deven (13090)
        The client-server model that the "old internet" has relied on is broken. The ad-revenue cycle is destroying quality of service, shutting down many good sites permanently, and we're losing vast quantities of content in the process.

        The "old Internet" was funded by government and academic institutions, and commercial activity was forbidden on the backbone. Spam was nonexistent, nobody launched DDoS attacks and few people bothered to forge email addresses, though plenty knew how. Nothing was wrong with the old Internet; it just wasn't mainstream.

        The "new Internet" has many more resources online, but we suffer the excesses of commercialism at the same time. Between spam and ad-supported websites, we are bombarded by as much advertising online as in the physical world, if not moreso. And, as in the physical world, we're tired of the constant advertising, and it's losing effectiveness. It's the "new Internet" that's broken, because the advertising business isn't working too well to support most online content.

        Maybe it's time we find a way to actually pay for all this content we desire? I'm not sure how best to implement it, but if you were to take the costs involved with providing the most useful services, and divide those costs among the millions upon millions of Internet users, it would probably be fairly cheap on a per-user basis. Maybe it's time for the Internet to find a better way than annoying advertising to sustain itself?

        I'm beginning to wonder if marketing isn't a bit like antibiotics -- useful in moderation (to find out about products you didn't know of but would want), but dangerous to overuse (because it generates resistance which makes it become generally lrdd effective), and it doesn't matter if some marketers restrain themselves, because the abusive ones can ruin it for everyone.

        I believe the marketing profession has created for itself a Tradegy of the Commons. The incessant advertising on all fronts has lessened the value of all advertising. There's just too much of it. Some marketing is useful to the consumer; if they don't know that a product is out there, they can't buy it, even if they'd like it. Most companies, however, seek to shove their products down the consumers throats with a barrage of advertising. This is counter-productive, and it explains the ever-growing hostility people are beginning to feel towards advertising in general.

        I don't see any easy solutions to this, but I have an uneasy feeling that this form of advertising-driven capitalism may be due for a major reckoning, and the results could be ugly...
  • Subtle. (Score:5, Funny)

    by saintlupus (227599) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @10:37AM (#4685426) Homepage


    I think what people fail to realize is that for many business, less people is *just fine*, if those people are paying.




    Hmm. Sounds like we're in for another harangue on the topic of Slashdot subscriptions in the near future.




    I'd happily pay, if you guys would promise to use the money to buy some English as a Second Language courses. Maybe a spell checker.



    --saint
    • Re:Subtle. (Score:4, Funny)

      by Twirlip of the Mists (615030) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Saturday November 16, 2002 @10:42AM (#4685450)
      I'd happily pay, if you guys would promise to use the money to buy some English as a Second Language courses. Maybe a spell checker.

      What you have to realize is that Slashdot isn't a service. When you pay for a subscription, you're not paying for a service. If that's the way you look at it, you'd be a fool to donate, because the quality of the reporting and the discussions on this site really, really stinks.

      You have to think of Slashdot as a charity, like the church or the homeless shelter. By giving to Slashdot, you're helping to keep a bunch of dot-com refugees off the streets and out of the gutters. That's all there is to it.

      Which is why nobody subscribes. Charity sucks.
      • Re:Subtle. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by deander2 (26173) <public&kered,org> on Saturday November 16, 2002 @11:47AM (#4685732) Homepage
        Yes, +5 funny, I know, and yes I can take a joke, but...

        I subscribe to slashdot because I read and use it every day, both for personal and professional reasons. As a (yes, employed) programmer, I appriciate the time and energy it takes to no only write and maintain this site, but also supply it with a constant source of usually interesting and relevent news.

        I really couldn't care less if there are typos in headlines - Slashdot (for 4+ years so far) provides me with an insanely inexpensive yet invaluable service. The charity here is not you giving to them, but them giving to you.
    • Re:Subtle. (Score:4, Informative)

      by AntiFreeze (31247) <antifreeze42&gmail,com> on Saturday November 16, 2002 @12:48PM (#4686027) Homepage Journal
      Check out Cliff's journal Even Professional Writers Mis-Spell [slashdot.org].

      Aside from other things, Slashdot does have a spellchecker. It just isn't a grammar checker. It doesn't correct the wrong word spelled correctly (i.e. thing where you meant think). Spellcheckers are limited.

      My advice is, if you're reading slashdot for its literary merits, maybe you need to start browsing at -1. In lieu of that, lighten up. And I'm sorry if that sounded harsh, but seriously, if you want to judge slashdot, judge it by what types of stories get posted, by the ensuing conversations, but not by the occasional mistakes of the editors.

  • by Captain Pedantic (531610) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @10:38AM (#4685430) Homepage
    I'm curious. What benefits does contributing to Slashdot give? Is it just the tingly feeling of helping them out? Lord knows, it hasn't raised the quality of the editing!

    Does anyone still contibute?
    • You're buying back the ad space on your own screen. /. serves you ad-free pages with exactly the same content as the freeloaders. But we all know /.'s real business is directing us all towards ThinkGeek.com.
    • by Tack (4642) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @11:06AM (#4685559) Homepage
      Right now all a subscription gives you is ad-free pages. But, honestly, yes, I think for most people who have paid, myself included, the main motivation is some form of loyalty and desire to help out.

      Slashdot definitely has its annoying faults, but there isn't a single website I spend more time on than Slashdot. Sometimes I find myself reloading the front page only a minute after I last viewed it. I am probably the kind of user Slashdot normally hates (frequent reloader), so I am only too happy to pay my share. I'd rather lose $50 than Slashdot, even with all its faults. :)

      Jason.
    • I paid for several thousand pages of subscription viewing. I set it to 7 uses a day. I am usually well over that so the point is moot unless you set down $50+.

      Yes, basically I was hoping that if I put some money into /., my annoyances would be heard. I have never directed them solely at Malda as he has enough email to sort through.

      All the +4 and +5 posts complaining about Michael and the poor editing I am sure get noticed.

      Does it matter if we paid or not? No, it's still Malda's site and he can do what he likes w/it.

      The least they could do was change their title from "editors".

      If I had money, I would contribute when my subscription runs out. It's not for the lack of ads, it's to keep /. going so I don't have to search elsewhere for SOME of the news I read here.

      Just my worthless .02
  • Thats right! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 16, 2002 @10:38AM (#4685431)
    " but I think what people fail to realize is that for many business, less people is *just fine*, if those people are paying. "

    Yes, thats the number one thing the dot-com business men and women must understand. You need paying customers in the dot-com industry just like everyone else, volume doesn't help one bit if no one pays anyway.
  • In other news... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 16, 2002 @10:41AM (#4685447)
    Money is good for buisnesses profits.
  • by upstateguy (90019) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @10:44AM (#4685462)
    Does anyone think that this is unusual or unexpected? Many new businesses (whether drug dealers to that toothpicked chicken pushed in your face at the mall) include giving away samples (in yahoo's case email or other net service) and then making a premium version, weaning off the nonpaying, and incrementally trying to add on additional services for more money.

    The problem of going from completely free to charging for the exact same thing is that is ticks off your potential customer base. Therefore the extra's (like Salon or Slashdot's elminating some ads) try to present a 'value added' aspect that makes the rubes reach for their Discover cards. ;-)

    I'd only be really surprised if that wasn't a "Plan B" from day 1 or if there aren't more of these new billing plans in the future.
    • I have no problem with a web business, or any business that offers a free service and a better pay service. It all depends on how much I want to pay for the features. In most cases I've seen you either have a functional but limited service for free and then pay has faster access or more transfer. If advertising can't pay the bills anymore why shouldn't the purchaser of services and the person who directly puts the strain on servers/support/etc?
  • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @10:44AM (#4685463) Journal
    I was sure that this was going to happen for years. Email is perfect for this -- high barrier to change. Get 'em hooked, then milk 'em.

    However, I expected that Yahoo was going to offer better service. I would assume that IMAP support, Yahoo not selling your information, etc. would come with this.

    There are better email providers, if you're planning on paying money. Take a look at the links on this [emailman.com] page, ofr instance.

    I expect MS will collect a lot more users on Hotmail from this...
    • Hotmail is already a lot more annoying than Yahoo in the way it tries to push you toward its "premium" account level--msn sends me email almost every few days, promoting some aspect of paid service.

      Worse than that, msn won't let me block messages where the From address includes my username, claiming that's the only way they know to send me admin messages. Only about a million spammers use that trick. Hello, Microsoft--think you might hire some programmers to solve that problem for you?

    • by jaaron (551839) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @11:18AM (#4685621) Homepage
      Okay, I'll admit that I actually pay something like $19.99 a year to Yahoo! for POP3 access. Why? Glad you asked. Here's a summary:

      1. Yahoo! Mail can be access anywhere. (So can most mail, but this is still important.)
      2. I can use a browser or a regular email client application (like Mutt or Evolution). The advantages of having POP3 access are important to me. I can easily save my email and I can use the features I need and like from my mail application of choice.
      3. When I email via POP3, I have NO Yahoo! advertisements attached.
      4. Yahoo! isn't going away anytime soon.

      The last one is why I choose to go with Yahoo!. My college email account will one day go away. I don't want to use (can't really) my work email for personal correspondence. I'm likely to move around the next couple of years, so my ISP will probably change (so there goes my ISP email account). There are other free email services, but none are as established as Hotmail or Yahoo!. And that's what it came down to. I wanted an email address that I could give out and not worry about it changing in a couple months, or even a couple years. If I decided to move to anywhere in the world, I would still have my Yahoo! email account. None of my other accounts have that stability. Few other online email providers can guarentee that kind of stability. Of course, Yahoo! could go out of business, or could sell off the email business, but that's a risk regardless of what I choose.

      Additionally I find that Yahoo!'s spam filter works fairly well for me (better than Hotmail), it's interface is more lightweight than Hotmail, I can even access it via a links or lynx web browser. You can change your privacy policy settings so that you don't get spammed or sold out and the service is always up. I made the decision several months ago and I haven't been disappointed.
      • > it's interface is more lightweight than Hotmail, I can
        > even access it via a links or lynx web browser.

        Have you tried it recently? The signin page always gets submitted via https so unless you have a very new Lynx you are screwed.
      • I buy a domain name and provide myself with as many email addresses as I want. It might cost per month what you are paying for a year, but I also get webspace with a load of extra features.
      • I had the same problem. I realized that what I wanted was not really POP3 access but a way to download messages to my local mail spool file.

        So I spent a few days whipping up a small perl script which works reasonable well, find it here [mit.edu]

        It actually works better than POP3 because it lets you d/load messages from different folders separately (even the Bulk folder, which as you noted is *very* useful).

        Bottom line, if you're already using linux/*BSD, you might want to check Freshmeat.net before going out and buying or coding something that may not be necessary.

      • You could just register your own domain name for $12-$15 a year, and use a registrar that freely allows you to alias domain email to any existing POP3 or IMAP mailbox (like 15dollardomains.com, who I use currently). Presto! unlimited email addresses perminantly, that can be redirected anywhere, for the lifetime of your domain, and you're not advertising for Yahoo! every time you email someone.
      • I pay $36/year for Spamcop. In addition to every feature I can think of (pop3, imap, webmail, forwarding, pop3 polling, configurable spam filtering, sender blacklist and whitelist, no ads) I ALSO get more convenient access to their kick-ass spam reporting tool.
  • *sigh* (Score:5, Funny)

    by ArizonaBay (265782) <maynard.tool@com> on Saturday November 16, 2002 @10:46AM (#4685471)
    This sort of stuff makes you miss the good old days when .com's weren't concerned with such trivial things like "profit".
  • THis is too little too late..

    Remember the egroups buy out debacle? Where Yahoo thought that it could buy out egroups and implement ads in every freakign group message and thought that would somehow encourage more people to use those groups and clik on the ads..

    The only ones now that use free email are spammers and scam artists unless yahoo is willing to market to them to get the cash its too little too late..

    Look at this way most isps offer web email access.. what does a yahoo email accoutn bring to the table in addtion to this...Nothing!

    • Er, I use Yahoo. It's an email address I can rely on to work and be accessable whereever I am. I can switch ISPs every month and it'll still be there. Most people I know, technically inclined and otherwise, have an account with at least one independent email provider, be it Yahoo, Netscape, Hotmail (*shudder*) or whatever, for exactly that reason.

      Personally I don't see what the fuss is about. Yahoo are not, whatever the article says, removing anything from existing Yahoo Mail users, but they are creating good reasons for people to switch. I've been saying for a long time I'd be happy to pay money for POP3/IMAP access if it means I don't have to sign up for spam (previously the only other option) and now it's available, I intend to do exactly that.

      I really hope they make a success of it. The "Ads fund everything" model, as well as being bankrupt anyway, doesn't suit everyone. It certainly doesn't suit me. I find most TV channels here in the US unwatchable, radio is beginning to go the same way - even NPR devotes an unhealthy amount of time to "Morning edition is underwritten by the..." spots - and a significant number of websites have become unnavigatable and unreadable because of an obsession with overloading them with ads. Tried visiting your local news channel's site of late?

      I'm willing to stump up cash. I did it for Salon. I'd love to turn off the ads on Yahoo in general, though - POP3/IMAP access aside - this doesn't appear to do much in that area. But it is a step in the right direction. I hope they make a success of it.

  • Finally (Score:5, Funny)

    by m_chan (95943) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @10:47AM (#4685482) Homepage
    Well, I for one am relieved to finally have the answer to what goes in the number 2 slot of all of those

    1. do this
    2. ___________
    3. profit!


    multiple choice quizzes people keep posting on /. I never was able to get that answer and was starting to feel like I was being picked on.
  • Why pay? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ALoverOfPeace (586114)
    I don't understand why anyone would be willing to pay for e-mail access only. I always thought the use of free e-mail accounts was that they were "throw away" - you use them for sites that require an e-mail address, for posting online, or other situations when you don't want to give out your "real" e-mail address. When you start paying for access, that removes, imo, the only benefit of free e-mail access. Most ISPs also have online ways of checking your e-mail without actually setting up the incoming/outgoing mail servers.
    • Re:Why pay? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jmkaza (173878)
      How long have you been with your current ISP? Yahoo's advantage is that it's let me keep the same address for years, through a couple moves and a few ISP collapses. It's friends I haven't talked to in years, finding my adress with old papers and still being able to get a hold of me. They do work great as throw-aways, but that isn't their only use.
    • I currently work for a university, and my internet access is through their dial-up server (free!). I have an e-mail address through my employer, but I don't feel it's appropriate to use it for some tasks: eg. personal e-mails to friends, and online shopping etc. I've had my Yahoo account for years, since going to grad school at _another_ university, where I also had e-mail provided. I moved, my e-mail address stayed the same.

      At any rate, I'm fine with 3 attachments per message and 4 MB of space. For now at least, and if I ever need more, I'll pay. It's not much.
    • I always thought the use of free e-mail accounts was that they were "throw away" - you use them for sites that require an e-mail address, for posting online, or other situations when you don't want to give out your "real" e-mail address.

      Nah, I use my main account mainly for the web access, the permanence beyond ISP switches, and the easy to remember name (no one ever asks me how to spell "yahoo.com").

      I could use my inbox.org address for these purposes, but then I have to commit to paying $100/month or whatever to run it.

  • by peachboy (313367) <slimindieNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday November 16, 2002 @10:52AM (#4685506) Homepage Journal
    this just in from the associated press:
    a new study has confirmed that by charging people, you can get money. this revolutionary new business model is being adapted to other businesses around the world as we speak.
  • by melonman (608440)

    If webmail cost money, wouldn't it discourage people from creating 5,000 addresses a day? Or provide some money to pay for the countermeasures?

  • by Tomcat666 (210775) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @11:02AM (#4685543) Homepage
    My E-Mail address is far too important for me to lose it. The address didn't change the last 3 years, and I would be happy not to change it in the near future.

    My problem is that the address is from a Freemailer service (GMX [gmx.net]). So if they start to charge for their mail service, and I want to keep my mail address, I will have to pay.

    I think that's true for most people using Yahoo's mail service.
    • by RobertB-DC (622190) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @11:15AM (#4685607) Homepage Journal
      I was very concerned about my email address... I had robertb@geocities.com from way before Yahoo! bought out Geocities. But as the spam increased more and more, the geocities.com/yahoo.com address became more and more worthless. The kicker was when some b*stard used my email address as the reply-to on a spam message... first my inbox filled with bounce messages, then with angry messages from recipients and sysadmins.

      I changed my reply-to address to the email on my own domain, dixie-chicks.com, and after a few months, all mail from people I cared to hear from was coming to an email address I controlled. The economics are there:

      * 12 euros/year (< us$15 even on a bad day) for a domain name from Gandi.net [gandi.net]. If all you need is email forwarding, stop here -- they have it.

      * 6 bucks/month for a web host like the one I use [neologism.com]. Includes no-ad no-popup web space and unlimited web-based email addresses. Not meaning to plug, but they are reliable and cheap.

      All together, it's worth $15 a year + $6 a month for a better deal and better service than I'd ever get from Yahoo!.
    • by FreeUser (11483) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @11:35AM (#4685669)
      Yahoo is right to do this. They provide a service at some expense and have to recoup their costs.

      This is true of anyone offering a service. Now, perhaps the costs (e.g. for my own web page, http://expressivefreedom.org [expressivefreedom.org]) is low enough that the cost is simply donated, but in that sense that cost is recouped from my day job.

      The current client server architecture of the web (which BTW stands in start contrast to the underlying peer-to-peer architecture of the internet itself) places almost all of the cost burden on the publisher. The more popular a web site (or email service, or IRC server, or IM servcie, or what have you) the more bandwidth they need to buy, the more servers they need to cluster together, etc. They have no choice but to recoup their costs or stop offering the service, and if advertising is no longer sufficient (costs have outstripped that line of revinue), then customers will start to have to pony up.

      But what is often ignored is that there are architectures where the costs are shared and distributed.

      USENET was an early implimentation of this (still costly, because ALL the data is copied to ALL of the distributed servers), where everyone doesn't go to ONE server, they go to ONE of THOUSANDS. USENET still carries more data than any single website (even groups.google.com, which is merely an archive, not a stream of information).

      FreeNet is a better implimentation, where data which is in demand is replicated to caches closer (in terms of routing metrics) to those wishing to see the data. The originating site bears only the cost of making the inforamtion available (and providing a small portion of their local drive and bandwidth to cache other unrelated data) ... the more popular the data becomes, the more widedly it is distributed, the more available it becomes, all the while adding no additional cost to the providor. The cost instead is shared in tiny increments by everyone, in a barter system of essentially perfect effeciency.

      Restructure the web on a P2P basis, as FreeNet is doing, and you don't just get the Anonymouty and Uncensorability it was originally designed for, you get the scalability and low cost (regardless of popularity) of participation which the web in its current, client server form, will never enjoy.

      FreeNet does dump old information no longer in demand (least popular, oldest first), a la USENET, but that is easily corrected by the one intersted in providing said information ... for there is nothing preventing a static copy being preserved on your own system, to be reloaded into the net when the old copy expires.

      Were Yahoo running on such an architecture, it is likely that their add revinues alone would be more than enough to cover all their costs, and there would be no need to begin charging for their other free services. They might choose to anyway ... greed seems to know no reasonable bounds these days, now that we've elevated it to diety status ... but the bar would be very low for hobbiests and enthusiasts to step in and offer a free alternative. Adopting such an architecture would go a long way in keeping the net free, in both senses of the word.

      Unfortunately, there are powerful media interests who do not want to see a world of peers exchanging information, they want to see a new channel by which they can dump their dreck into our minds, while keeping us placidly on the couch where we belong. So, if such a change is going to occur (and with the release of FreeNet 0.5 the software is certainly available and usable), it will have to be because people like us, at the grass roots level, prefer an even playing field to the centralized, "read what we tell you" architecture cable companies, media cartels, Microsoft, and large content providors are tryig to foist upon us instead.
      • Very good point about peer-peer distribution. The availability increases with demand.

        A big potential problem I can see is the cost for the peers. We're already seeing some ISP implement bandwidth caps. If we take this concept to the extreme example of everything becoming peer-peer then I would expect consumer bandwidth costs to skyrocket, at least for any constantly utilized p2p nodes.

        Another problem may be reluctant node operators. I just recently read into FreeNet. I feel a bit unconfortable with the idea that my node may be used to assist with untraceable kiddie porn or cult/nutty militia propoganda or other material that I find objectionable or even illegal. (Read the FreeNet faq [freenetproject.org] about this very concern and counter points.) I'll probably get over this and give it a try, but I expect many others won't get over it.

        This would be an excellent model for much of the type of things we read on Slashdot, such as a geek with a cool project and a low-bandwidth server that gets pummelled for two days and then is far less busy afterward. A FreeNet-distributed site would respond to the demand but not cost the author additional money or grief. Or perhaps a programmer starts and open-source project that gets ignored until version 0.4 and then people notice it does something cool and works and then the demand skyrockets. Typically projects have to relocate to handle the traffic, but no relocation would be necessary in a FreeNet-like distribution system.

        The real irony with this story is that mail is peer-peer, anyway. Yahoo is basically charging for high availability online storage, otherwise you could just have a service that knows when you're online and points to your local SMTP agent when you're online. The sender's SMTP agent already holds the email if the receiving server is unavailable and retries periodically. The only problem with this would be if both sender and recipient ran their own SMTP agents and were never online at the same time.
    • by arvindn (542080)

      I think that's true for most people using Yahoo's mail service.


      I don't know. For me, for instance, it isn't.

      It's a bad idea to use a service like yahoo
      as one's primary e-mail address. When some
      website that wants to spam me asks for an
      e-mail during registration, I give my yahoo
      address. I also use it for subscribing to
      some mailing lists which I read when I'm
      bored. I once found yahoo mail it useful
      when I was on vacation and my ISP didn't
      have a web interface. But not much else. I use
      my ISP's e-mail account with my friends
      and relatives and my account in university
      for most other things. So if yahoo says
      no more free access, I'll just say ta-ta.

      It doesn't take a finance wiz to figure
      out that they could become a pay service
      any day. About a year back, I used to put
      some stuff bulky up at geocities as backups.
      Then they removed ftp access and forced
      you to go through their stupid web interface
      which had some restrictions on file sizes.
      So I looked for other places, but also
      learnt my lesson: don't trust any freebie
      providers on the web. I made sure I didn't
      use my yahoo account for *anything* that I
      cared about after that :)
  • Misleading Post (Score:5, Informative)

    by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot@NospAm.keirstead.org> on Saturday November 16, 2002 @11:05AM (#4685552) Homepage

    Once again, another overreacting FUD piece on Slashdot. If you read the article you will see that all they are doing is raising the price of their ALREADY pay per use "Yahoo Mail Plus" service, or whatever the name, from 19.95 to 29.95. They are also adding some new features to it like the ability to send email for different domains. They are not "taking away" anything from the standard Yahoo mail service, even though the article tries to paint it that way, by saying that "customers are restricted to 4MB in their inbox", etc. There has always been that restriction on inbox size, and nearly ever WebMail provider has a simmilar restriction. If they didn't then they'd all just become free warez repositories!

    • First of all, they're constantly fiddling with the restrictions on attachments. I know that it wasn't that long ago that, as long as you had the email space, you could send and receive attachments of any size. Now, I believe, it's less than 1 MB.

      Second, 4 MB total size is fairly recent, as in, sometime in the last 18 months. When I signed up for Yahoo, a couple years ago, I was given 5 MB, and this was upgraded to 6 MB about 2 and a half years ago.

      Third, there were a number of reductions in service earlier this year, including, most notably, loss of POP3 access.

      You are correct that there are no particular losses of service that prompted this article. However, the article is correct that over the past year or two, Yahoo has been slowly degrading their free mail service.

    • "customers are restricted to 4MB in their inbox", etc. There has always been that restriction on inbox size

      Actually, I signed up for mine about four or five years ago, so I have SIX megabytes of e-mail space (as was the offer back then). YES!

  • by jayhawk88 (160512)
    So let me get this straight: If my business charges for goods or services, it may make a profit?

    Way to reaffirm my faith in true geeks.
  • Yahoo charging (Score:3, Insightful)

    by satsuke (263225) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @11:12AM (#4685593)
    As has always been the case with core internet services functionality. There is a bloated way and a smart way.

    In this example

    If you want:

    1. Virtually unlimited storage space
    2. Mind bending number of filtering options
    3. OS / Platform / Device independence
    4. No cost or cost included with monthly access charge.

    Than go get a POP3 account from your ISP and only be limited by the limitations of the interface your choose to use.

    If your ISP does not have such a service, than there are a small number of free unix workspace accounts out there that do offer it.

    Yahoo / Hotmail / AOL email all have variations available for this .. you just have to pay extra to get them

    I'm just waiting for the day when Yahoo makes YahooGroups only send to yahoo addresses. On that day there will likely be an exodus of group participation and a sudden interest in majordomo. If anyone here has tried to follow a mailing list of any particular length via the yahoo web interface they will know what I mean.

    To Yahoo's credit, when they recently downgraded new email accounts from 6 megs to 4 of storage, they did grandfather people over the limit in with the old limit rather than the new.
    • Than go get a POP3 account from your ISP and only be limited by the limitations of the interface your choose to use.


      Don't forget, a lot of yahoo mail users either don't have an ISP or don't wish to be tied to an ISP by their email...

  • by teamhasnoi (554944) <teamhasnoi AT yahoo DOT com> on Saturday November 16, 2002 @11:17AM (#4685617) Homepage Journal
    I get 6 megs of space for mail. My wife just signed up for it and she gets 4 megs. I believe when it first came out you could get 10.

    I wanter her to change for a several reasons.

    She was on Netscape mail. It sucks over there! No filters, no checking pop mailboxes, spam up the wazoo, and no customiztion. I could send her a message, and she couldn't find it, buried under all the other messages.

    Yahoo is good for people who like their own 'space'. You can change up the background, theme, and mail folders - Netscape had no options whatsoever. She now is changing settings all over, and customizing stuff like crazy. This is good, because she's getting less of a 'I hate computers' attitude, and more of a 'This is cool!' attitude. (Every little bit helps ;)

    With all the Klez and its ilk, nothing like having all that NOT on my local machine. I don't have to worry about if Norton got his coffee today. Outlook finally doesn't matter since I can check a couple of pop mailboxes too.

    Yahoo is making constant visible improvements to the mail system, making it easier to use, spam free, and nicer to look at.

    I recommend it highly. And I'm just using the free service!

    Now, the Yahoo Groups on the other hand, parcel info out like its methadone. It makes navigating to find a nugget of what you're looking for into a painful experience. I try to avoid YG and Geocities pages whenever possible.

    The mail is where its at.

    • I would also recommend Bigfoot [bigfoot.com], which has all those features, and depending on what level of service you want, only costs $5-$10 per quarter... The service is decent, and the spam filtering is quite good - and you can forward them any spam that does get though and it'll get caught next time. There's also a free email option available as well, for those that don't mind filtering out the ads and spams themselves.
  • by GordoSlasher (243738) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @11:18AM (#4685622)
    Multi-tiered services can work if the pay service offers significant value over the free service. Hook us on the free service, then entice us with goodies to get to our bank accounts.

    I'm relatively cheap so I subscribe to very few web sites (but I do pay for a few). One thing that doesn't work for me is to simply take away the ads. I use Eudora for my email client, and I'm very happy with the ad-sponsered free version. The ads are relatively non-intrusive. So why would I pay for Eudora's ad-free version? There are no additional features, so I don't see the point. As a rule I do not give handouts to such high-tech charities if I don't get significant value in return, so Eudora loses, especially during the advertising downturn.

    Web sites and software writers who are contemplating free and premium versions of their products and services need to be sure the free version also provides good value without being obnoxious. Of course, most reputable shareware authors learned this long ago. Don't nag too often or you'll chase away your prospective customers.
  • A company charges for premium E-mail service while leaving bare-bones, restricted service free, and is still making money!

    So, when is Steve going to realize he made a mistake [mac.com] by turning a totally free service used by many into a totally paid service used by few, with no middle ground??

    • I can't believe it either! I started to use the service at work, was starting to like it and find uses for it - then *poof*. All gone. Sure, I could pay $100 bucks, but why? I have email, and an 'iDisk'(Briefcase) as a FREE Yahoo Mail user. The intergration was swell, but not worth 100 bucks.

      Is this another status thing? I don't need that kind of status.

      Steve must have had some powerful drugs in the office that day. What do all the "Switch" commercials have in common, what do all Mac users say? "It just works."

      Well, It doesn't work anymore.

    • and is still making money!

      Who say's .Mac isn't making money? I mean I don't know that it is, but who says it isn't?

      So, when is Steve going to realize he made a mistake

      My guess is that the only "mistake" involved is that many of the services within .Mac aren't very high demand like email. I would rather have seen it be half the price and only the highest demanded services. But I'm not a very good armchair CEO so only time will tell.
  • Yahoo is a company that is responsible to shareholders and therefore companies need to make a profit. I don't think it is the case of yahoo getting ppl on board for free and then whacking them with a 'pay or else'. Besides, are other 'free' services around.
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @11:24AM (#4685641) Homepage Journal
    Yahoo is providing a service here in the form of email. That provides a logical reason for someone to want to pay them.

    They are not charging for content, that is what fails. Many places that gave it away do find themselves in a lurch when they think they can charge for it. The problem most of those sites have is that they don't offer a compelling reason to pay.
  • by FearUncertaintyDoubt (578295) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @11:27AM (#4685644)
    People have remarked that changing the terms from free to pay will piss off their existing potential customers. While this comparison may not be perfect, it reminds me of a friend who owns a laundromat. Like any consumer retail-type business, you have to be very concerned about the store environment. One of the fads in the business was "free dry." The dryers are free, and you mark up the washers enough to compensate. The free dry is supposed to attract customers -- in retail marketing terms, a loss leader.

    However, the catch is that free dry attracts the lowlifes. What happens is that seriously selfish moocher-types come in and split up their wash among 10 dryers at once. Other people get pissed off, some possibly because they wanted to pull the same stunt. Sometimes people even get into fights over this. Now the average guy who just wants to do a wash and dry and go home is thinking, screw this place. And he's the customer that the laundromat wanted all along, but now it's left with the worst customers.

    So my friend, said, no way am I putting in free dry. The fact is, the lowlifes drive out the good customers. And businesses are very much concerned about keeping the lowlifes away while catering to the paying customers while staying friendly to the honest-but-not-yet-committed customer. It's a delicate balancing act, and businesses that try to extend themselves to attract customers (e.g., free e-mail) can get abused by the moochers, which can seriously affect costs and threaten the business. So when someone says, "you're going to piss off the people who are getting it for free," the answer will be, "if they were just trying to leech off me, then screw 'em. If they're a good customer, they will be willing to pay a reasonable price."

    • Your friend should have put up a sign saying "Free Dry. Max. 2 dryers per customer". Granted, I expect laundromat employees wouldn't be keen on enforcing it, but it'd be the only way to make it work. In terms of free e-mail though, the server can monitor free accounts for abuse (ie. spamming) constantly, and cancel the obvious abusers. The paying customers have a "key to the deluxe dryer room" where the dryers are bigger and have more heat settings, and there's complimentary fabric softener and comfy chairs.
  • by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Saturday November 16, 2002 @11:28AM (#4685648) Journal
    less people is *just fine*, if those people are paying.
    But... But... This runs counter to the kind of wisdom harbored by "market share-obsessed" marketing types!!!!
  • "the first ones always free"

  • Hemos, please get a quintuple espresso, read the following sentence out loud, see if you can understand it yourself, and rewrite in something approximating English:

    "The conventional wisdom around web stuff that's been free, but converts to much pay is that "they die off, no one wants to use it anymore etc etc", but I think what people fail to realize is that for many business, less people is *just fine*, if those people are paying. "
  • Current Paying User (Score:2, Interesting)

    by chicagothad (227885)
    I have been a paying user for Yahoo mail for about a year now. This service has been around for a while...they are just branding it now.

    I think the service is terrific. I get POP access (can't get that with Hotmail) and Yahoo's filtering for spam beats the hell out of Hotmail (which I think was designed to collect spam).

    The interface is great and they continue to add features. If you don't want to pay extra for these features, then don't. You can still use the service...just not get the extended items.

    Also, don't most people get free email when they get internet access? I think only the people surfing from public libraries would find this an issue.

    • I get POP access (can't get that with Hotmail) and Yahoo's filtering for spam beats the hell out of Hotmail (which I think was designed to collect spam).

      Not to support the Evil One (tm) here, but you can check your Hotmail inbox in Outlook Express 6, for no added cost. The spam filter is no great shakes, but it's tolerable.

      Also, don't most people get free email when they get internet access? I think only the people surfing from public libraries would find this an issue.

      First, everyone, repeat after me:- Yahoo is not cancelling its free email service. It's not even restricting its existing customers, merely increasing the price of its value-added email services.

      Second, you'll be surprised by the number of people who have no telephones, but constantly use email. Yes, all of them use (the free-as-in-beer flavors of) Hotmail, Yahoo and the ilk.

  • by magic (19621)
    I pay for a Yahoo! mailbox and am very happy with it... except that even if you are a paying customer, they still show you ads.


    The Flash ads tend to crash older browsers and the non-Flash ads often have women in bikinis in them. I don't need pictures of semi-naked women showing on my monitor at work, thank you. I wish Yahoo! would get rid of the ads for paying customers.


    -m

    • Re:I pay (Score:4, Informative)

      by GordoSlasher (243738) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @12:02PM (#4685798)
      One word: Proxomitron

      When web ads started getting too obnoxious, I started running ad blockers. I don't mind ads that stick to the margins where I can notice them or ignore them. I do mind when they make noise just by moving the mouse over them, pop-up over other content, pop-under and force me to click, distract me with animations, or distract me with boobies (in the workplace especially!!!!).

      I am amazed that Yahoo would force ads at paying customers. I would never pay for a service that displays disruptive advertising to its subscribers.

      Go back to simple magazine-style advertising and I will stop running ad blocking software.
      • by BTWR (540147)
        I would never pay for a service that displays disruptive advertising to its subscribers.

        Um... isn't that the model for basic cable? Nickelodeon used to be commercial free (according to last week's Newsweek) but then changed to a commercial channel. No one complained, however, I see your point, and this one may not be a correct analogy. If HBO started having commercials...

  • by reynolds_john (242657) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @11:47AM (#4685731)
    I'm pretty unimpressed for my $19 per year.

    Yahoo gives me only 6mb of email space, and constant ads asking me to 'upgrade' my service for *another* $9.99/yr for only 25mb more space!

    Everything else on that service is for pay. If I go log in right now (oh yes and turn off Privoxy) even though I am a paid member, I am still faced with a myriad of flash and java ads. Then there is the giant ad at the bottom when you log in telling you that for $29.99 a year you can get more space, and more this and that. Then finally there are two separate links for mail upgrades on the front of the email page.
    Worse yet, my wife also pays for an account, but we get no added benefit of having two paid for email addresses.

    The only reason I kept this mail address is the same reason you keep cell phones; we have no loyalty to the provider, but isn't it a pain to switch addresses? I've had this email account for years.

    And.. what's the alternative? Hotmail? No thanks. One of the reasons I pay Yahoo is because it's cheaper than running my own email, and it's much more reliable than many others. However, I think that their price points for $9.99 are 1999 customer expectations. Everything is obviously throttled and tiered for marketing, and it sucks.

  • The only thing I use my Yahoo account for is reading YahooGroup mailing lists that are too traffic intensive for me to want to yank them down to my personal mailbox anyway. Oh, and participating in the PepsiStuff [pepsistuff.com] promotion whenever they're running it. Doesn't matter to me if they give me four megabytes or a zillion, or let me send 3 attachments or 300; I've got an account on a friend's always-on personal Linux box to receive email, and that's good enough for me.
  • Yahoo is just fine (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xZAQx (472674) <zrizer@@@sbcglobal...net> on Saturday November 16, 2002 @11:52AM (#4685754) Homepage
    In a world full of companies like Microsoft, yahoo isn't really that bad. When I first moved out of my parent's house, I needed a new e-mail address, and one that would stick with me whenever I changed ISP's. I found out that yahoo provided free POP3 access (this was 1999 or 2000, btw) so I went with them. I was able to get a short, easy-to-remember e-mail address, with free POP3.

    So I was happy.

    Whenever it was that yahoo first announced they were no longer offering free POP3 access, I wasn't put off. I know many people were, but really, it was like 10 bucks per year; even my broke-ass can afford that.

    True, yahoo mail has a SLEW of spam. But they also add a header XYahooFiltered Bulk to each message with their proprietary filter deems as spam. I've been able (quite easily) to configure Mozilla mail and Evolution to filter based on this header, and dump all the spam in the trash. It works like a charm.
    • by hedley (8715)
      Actually thinking about it, one way for Yahoo to increase revenue is to disable the Bulk folder for the free accounts. Only enable it for the pay ones. The worst case for them is just lots of 6mb mailboxes full of spam. If they market it well they could lure people over to the "Spam Free" pay service. I am sure many users would be happy to get away from spam and be willing to pay for it especially if they use the Yahoo account as a primary email location.

      Hedley
  • A trend? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aphex2000 (521986) <ulysses@20 m i n.ch> on Saturday November 16, 2002 @11:55AM (#4685766)
    well, charging for webservices is what should have happened from the beginning.

    it's a shame that people think everything on the web should be free. it sounds reasonable for them because they are used to it and what they receive is not a good they can hold in their hands.

    but it's essential for every business that it has to make a profit somehow. to build all this on advertisement just can't work.
    for services like slashdot or google should be paid, by individuals or by groups/governments

    just my 2 (unpopular) cents!

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @12:03PM (#4685808) Homepage
    SBC is now bundling Yahoo's so-called "services" with DSL. They install adware and spyware, then insist on an EULA that doesn't let you remove the stuff. How much of Yahoo's "sales" are actually based on that?
  • virus scanning? (Score:2, Informative)

    by no_op (98128)
    One major perk of Yahoo mail (and Hotmail) is the virus checking that occurs on incoming mail and when attaching files.

    This option should be a big money saver for small businesses since most virii are email-born. And most small businesses cannot afford to employ someone to keep their virus software up-to-date.

    I think that Yahoo uses Norton to do virus scanning.
  • No, conventional widsom says that 1) You can't make a profit giving things away for free. 2) When a free service starts charging for access, yet remains worthless, they won't make a profit.

    Just because there is value to a service which is free does not mean it will retain its value after no longer being free.

    Apparently Yahoo's email service has proved to be worth paying for. What they've done is made it value added, so you are actually paying for something slightly better than the free option. That's good business sense. Maybe other businesses can learn from Yahoo instead of the "bait and switch" ploy that most places seem to be going with.
  • Slashdot has an advertising deal with a spammer. Check this out.

    At the top of this page is a T-Mobile ad, "CmdrTaco, founder of Slashdot, recommends..." [168.143.181.42] , served from "168.143.181.42 [168.143.181.42]". If you look at that IP address, it's a raw directory, and you can look around. It turns out to be a spammer's system. Content for both banner ads and spam runs are in there.

    Check out the directory htmlemails [168.143.181.42]. Especially http://168.143.181.42/htmlemails/test.html [168.143.181.42], which has stuff like "This e-mail was sent to you by {XXXXXXXXXXX} on behalf of SimplyWireless.com. You are receiving this e-mail because you registered with {XXXXXXXXXXX}, and agreed at that time to receive special offers via e-mail. If you wish to unsubscribe from this list, please send an e-mail to XXX to be removed immediately."

    So there it is. Slashdot has a spam operation as an advertiser, and it's officially endorsed by CmdrTaco.

  • Yahoo requires a "security key" to sign up for paid services. I forgot my security key - some gibberish I entered more than four years ago when I first created my account. After being put on hold on the Yahoo "help line" (on an IDD call!) for more than 15 mins, Yahoo's not getting my money.

  • by claes (25551) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @12:48PM (#4686029)
    Does anyone here use Yahoo personal address service? It allows you to connect a personal domain that you own with your yahoo email account. You can easily choose what address you want to send from when you compose your email, and you get both email to foo@yahoo.com and foo@bar.com to your email account at Yahoo.

    I use it and it is a pretty convenient way to get your _own_ email address and be independent of the email provider. If Yahoo email start to suck, I can host my email myself, but so far it is far more convenient to let Yahoo do it.

    What I wonder is how this new pay service works with the personal address service.
  • Of course, that would require everyone to start using PGP.
  • Apple infuriated many of its customers by initiating a $100-per-year fee for iTools, rechristened .Mac. Supposedly Apple a) only expected 10% retention, and b) claims it has been a great success.

    Many Mac users mistakenly, but IMHO very understandably believed that Apple had promised the service would be free forever. At the time a lot of people reviewed QuickTime files of Steve Jobs' keynote, but "free forever" never showed up--I think myself it was a conflation of "it's the only email address you'll ever need" (translation: it has forwarding capability) and "it's free" (for an unspecified period of time).

    I suspect it's too early to tell. I'm inclined to be skeptical of Apple's claims of success. For one thing, a number of late moves sound like desperation measures (they extended the "deadline" for signing up, cut the price for the first year to $50 for existing users, and sweetened the pot with various offers such as free photo prints).

    However, many .Mac users appear to be disappointed by the quality of the service. Various lapses (slow response, downtime, etc.) that were tolerated when the service was free are not when the service is paid for.

    And I think this is the Achilles heel of many "let's start charging 'em" schemes.

    The real test will be, not how many iTools subscribers convert to .Mac, but how many .Mac subscribers renew at the end of the first year.
  • by joshv (13017) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @01:19PM (#4686153)
    They made the accounts more restrictive, took away free POP access, and then decided to charge too much for too little.

    I looked around and found fastmail.fm - an excellent web/IMAP mail provider which integrates flawlessly with outlook or Mozilla/netscape mail. I pay $20/year and get something like 10 times the space I could get for the same price at yahoo. I also get the very cool email alias feature, where people can mail be at anything@myaccount.fastmail.fm. When web sites ask me for my address I sign up as say "slashdot@myaccount.fastmail.fm" - this way when I get spam I can tell who abused sold my email address, and block it based on the To: address.

    Anyway, look around, there are many high quality email providers out there who charge much less than yahoo, and provide a heck of a lot more.

    -josh
  • but I think what people fail to realize is that for many businesses, less people is *just fine*, if those people are paying.


    What are you saying? Some profit is better than zero profit? Are you on crack?!? We all know this from Geek Economics 101:

    1. Free Web Services.
    2. ?????
    3. Profit!
  • by tuffy (10202) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @01:39PM (#4686256) Homepage Journal
    I've spent the last five months trying to cancel Yahoo's premium service, but they still keep charging me their fee every single month. You can't send a message to their online help system without some sort of Yahoo account (which I no longer have) and the only phone number is long distance (and typically with a 1+ hour wait on hold). Disputing the charges with my credit card company every month is getting more than a little tedious, also.

    In short, don't buy any sort of Yahoo premium service. There are plenty of great services out there with better tech support; I recommend using one of those instead.

  • by jez9999 (618189)
    The conventional wisdom around web stuff that's been free, but converts to pay is that "they die off, no one wants to use it anymore etc etc", but I think what people fail to realize is that for many businesses, less people is *just fine*, if those people are paying.

    I think it depends entirely on the service. Some are far more appropriate to being charged for than others. For example, I pay an annual charge for my e-mail account and I'm pretty happy with it, but I wouldn't dream of paying for websites. I think they should be funded by adverts.

    The reasons are that
    1) E-mail is ONE service, whereas there are *millions* of websites. You can't be expected to pay a seperate fee for each site. I don't want to, anyway. OK, a choice of paying to remove ads is fine as well.
    and 2) Websites are a much more natural environment for advertising. If you receive your e-mail through POP or IMAP, you aren't going to see any banners unless they're sent to you (pseudo-spam). Ads can be integrated into websites and I *personally* have no problem with that.

    But anyway, Yahoo! are keeping their free e-mail service; this one appears to be merely an additional service they're offering, no one seems to lose out much.
  • !. Do this
    2. Do that ...

    9. ???^H^H^HCharge money
    10. Profit!

    Damn, who would have thought that this whole time the way to make money was to *gasp* charge for your services?!
  • I used to play in their games section all the time. Now, if you want to play in the "Ladder" games (where you are ranked) it costs $$$. I don't think that this is mean or vile of them, but I can subscribe to so many cool things for $10/month (or whatever it costs...) that it's just not worth it to me. On the other hand, if they get 5,000 people to buy year-subscriptions, then that's a lot more money than 1,000,000 people paying $0!
  • Customers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by buss_error (142273) on Saturday November 16, 2002 @03:55PM (#4687010) Homepage Journal
    but I think what people fail to realize is that for many businesses, less people is *just fine*, if those people are paying.

    I once fired 7 customers... and my billable hours went up 35%. Now I was doing about the same amount of work, but was getting 1/3 more money.

    Some customers are too expensive to keep if they keep getting a free ride. The 7 in question here kept turning in call backs on things outside the scope of work, and demanding that these items be "fixed" before they would pay for the previous work. Since it's my policy not to bill for work the customer doesn't accept, it was getting too expenseive to let these keep sucking on the tit. So it was Bubh bye for them.

    One kept calling back, wanting more work done, and I finally told him that I felt that my competitor could better serve their needs. "But they won't come out to us anymore!" they said. "I won't anymore myself", I said.

This is clearly another case of too many mad scientists, and not enough hunchbacks.

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