Loss of market share sees Yahoo China shut mainland e-mail service

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 April, 2013, 8:53pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 April, 2013, 2:59am


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Yahoo China's e-mail service is biting the dust.

The US web giant, which was a leading e-mail provider in the early days of the internet on the mainland, said yesterday it would end the service in four months. By August 19, all the data in the e-mail accounts of its millions of users will be erased.

Yahoo Mail has been losing market share on the mainland to domestic players. It now serves only 2 per cent of e-mail users in China, according to Hitwise data.

Data shows Yahoo Mail ranked No6 last month in market share among e-mail providers on the mainland, a rapid decline from No4 at the end of last year. The five top e-mail services are all provided by domestic companies, led by Tencent's QQ Mail, according to Hitwise.

Yahoo China's news portal has rivals, such as QQ, Sina and Sohu, which are more popular.

The firm suggested on its website that users register a mailbox with AliCloud, a core business of Alibaba Group, the mainland's biggest provider of e-commerce services.

Yahoo China has been run on the mainland by Alibaba since 2005. The US internet giant exchanged its Chinese arm for 40 per cent of Alibaba's stock. Yahoo also paid US$1 billion in cash.

Last year, Alibaba bought back half of the 40 per cent stake for US$7.6 billion, in a move widely seen as part of preparations for an initial public offering.

"As part of the agreement to buy back the Yahoo stake, technological support for the China Yahoo Mail service will be suspended, and we will begin the China Yahoo Mail account migration process beginning April 18," a Yahoo China spokeswoman said in an e-mail.

She said the firm would offer several options to users to make the transition "as smooth as possible". Existing users will have four months to migrate their accounts to the AliCloud mail service, the Yahoo Mail service in the US or a third-party e-mail provider of the user's choice.

But users are not satisfied. On Sina Weibo, China's answer to Twitter, they complained. "My Weibo, Taobao [an online shopping website operated by Alibaba] and group buying account are all registered with the Yahoo e-mail address," one user said. "What should I do now?"