When I read about the Yahoo and Zimbra deal, I was pretty impressed. As someone who has used the Zimbra mail product before, I have to say it’s one of the strongest product offerings in the space. More than that, though, I think there are two really good reasons for Yahoo to pick up Zimbra even at the price they paid for it.
Email Syndication is about more than just enterprise sales – A lot of articles I’ve read in the blogosphere talk about how Yahoo might now want to challenge Google and others for enterprise webmail deployments. I’m sure there’s a very healthy market there and Yahoo could do well. However, there is a whole other world of syndicated mail opportunities – hosting providers, alumni associations, domain registrars, ISPs, and others who offer email accounts to their members. Zimbra ought to do well in that space. It’s hard to understate how big of a win it is for a company of Zimbra’s size to win the Comcast account.
As an aside, one thing that Zimbra has going for it is that it’s a very “classic” email interface. As much as I love Gmail, the interface and paradigm is not for everyone. Deploying a Zimbra-like mail experience will be less scary for some groups of users.
Webmail needs to be scalable and stable – The Zimbra technology team knows what they’re doing. Every since I got on the beta for the “new” Yahoo Mail, the AJAX interface has felt slow. If Yahoo wants to continue to be a leader in AJAX-ified email on the web, they couldn’t have picked up a stronger team. If you’ve ever had to deal with slow or buggy webmail (and who hasn’t?) then you know how important this is.