Baydin founder Alex Moore is most likely telling the truth when he says that the much watched turnaround going on at Yahoo had nothing to do with his decision to finally launch his Boomerang email extension for Yahoo Mail. This is just when it happened to be finished, he says, but that doesn’t mean he’s not smiling all the way to the bank about his good fortune.
“The web is a more interesting place with a Yahoo focused on product – we’re really happy to see it [and now to be a part of it]” he says.
Boomerang is a Firefox and Chrome extension that allows email users to control when they send and receive email. Effectively, users can schedule outgoing email messages to send at a specific time and can receive email follow up reminders by having important incoming messages reappear in the inbox as desired.
Moore’s company has actually been getting inbound requests for a Yahoo extension ever since its launch for Gmail in 2010 and his team of four finally began working on the product this Spring (Yahoo’s turnaround kicked off with the hiring of its new CEO Marissa Mayer in mid-July).
Launching on Yahoo Mail means that Boomerang has moved from the enterprise user, with its Outlook extension, to the “prosumer” in Gmail and Google Apps users, and now to the largely consumer audience with Yahoo Mail.
The product that launches today will technically be a beta version and will be free for the time being. Eventually, the service will have pricing comparable to its Gmail cousin, according to Moore, meaning it will likely cost $4.99 per month for the personal version and $14.99 per month for the professional version. There’s a free version of the Gmail extension as well that offers limited usage and functionality, such as no mobile support and no option to set recurring messages. More than 10 percent of users thus far have opted for the paid versions according to Moore, who didn’t reveal whether Yahoo will offer a similar free option.
The Yahoo version will offer essentially the identical functionality and experience as Boomerang for Gmail although it will be designed to function as if it were a native part of the Yahoo Mail product. “Things will be in the right place,” says Moore. The product will also reflect the fact that Yahoo Mail uses a folder convention, as opposed to Gmail’s labels, and follows several other “slightly different philosophies,” according to the CEO.
Moore pointed out that Yahoo uses its own web service API rather than the IMAP technology used by nearly every other webmail provider does. The CEO says that there were some good things to come out of this for his team and his product, however the library support is not nearly extensive.
Moore looks for Yahoo Mail itself to continue to improve in the near future. He’s pointing to Mayer’s decision to “dogfood” the product to entire internal team (or force everyone to use it internally) as a likely catalyst for future development and refinement.
The Boomerang for Gmail extension has been downloaded more than 1.2 million times, making the 500 Startups alumni company profitable on just $375,000 in outside capital raised from angels including Dave McClure, Manu Kumar, David Cohen, Peter Weck, and others in April 2011.
Boomerang isn’t the only inbox management tool out there. LIkely the most popular competing solution is SaneBox. Although it offers its own version of a follow up reminder feature that overlaps with Boomerang, beyond that the companies vary in their approach. Sanebox focus more on priority filtering, subscription management, and attachment management, while Boomerang emphasizes scheduled email sending.
One thing SaneBox has over Boomerang is greater interoperability. By implementing its filtering through a series of additional smart folders added to a user’s email account, it works equally well on Gmail, Yahoo Mail, AOL Mail, Hotmail (Outlook.com), Exchange, Outlook, etc.
Baydin has taken the approach of releasing multiple productivity tools side by side, while SaneBox bundles them all into a single service. In addition to its flagship email extensions, the company released Boomerang Calendar in April to intelligently manage appointment scheduling among multiple people. More recently, it introduced the ability to pause the Gmail inbox, temporarily delaying the downloading of new messages until a user is ready to resume the deluge.
Email management is an enormous problem that has caught the attention of several of the world’s most prominent technology investors and commentators. The nut hasn’t been fully cracked, but the industry seems to be making progress…slowly.
This said, Boomerang’s users have spoken and the solution is widely popular. The company’s brand slogan is appropriately, “Let’s conquer your inbox.” With its simple yet powerful features and now offering support for two of the world’s top three Webmail services, the company is well on its way to earning the title of conquerer.