Yahoo will open source mail. I’m not sure how I missed this announcement - now a few weeks old, but I really like this move. Here’s why:
- Yahoo is a media company. Letting enthusiastic programmers riff on your codebase has *zero* financial downside if your software is free anyway.
- Enthusiastic programmers = enthusiastic users. Enthusiastic users = higher viral adoption. Higher viral adoption = high page view driven advertising.
In the press release Yahoo! sites tapping into the innovation of programmers as a primary driver for the decision:
That’s clearly true - but the real value isn’t in "making yahoo mail better" - its in building a way to distribute adviews beyond the borders of Yahoo Mail itself. For any company whose business model is ad supported software-as-a-service, open sourcing is will be strategic long term benefit. Here’s my soundbite - Open is the new lock in. Catchy eh?
"Yahoo is a very large company but we can’t build every applications that a user might want," Dickerson said in an interview at Yahoo headquarters. "You can imagine tens of thousands of niche applications (springing) from Yahoo Mail."