Yahoo’s move to attract more users shows a weakness in a key product (YHOO)

Despite all the drama going on within Yahoo’s management, Yahoo has a lot of popular services that still draw hundreds of millions of people, like Yahoo Fantasy Sports, Finance, and News.

But to fully use those services, you needed a Yahoo email account. And when a lot of people are using non-Yahoo email accounts these days, like Gmail or Outlook, that’s a problem for Yahoo.

Yahoo seems to have recognized this. And on Friday, it made it possible to use some of its most popular services with a non-Yahoo email address, a move that shows it sees a broader opportunity outside of its core Yahoo userbase.

The company said the new registration process will first roll out to Yahoo Fantasy Sports, but will soon expand to other Yahoo products.

To better explain its new registration process, Yahoo used a hypothetical example that perhaps best captures what it’s seeing in the email market these days.

“Meet Jack. Jack wants to play Yahoo Fantasy Sports so he can have some Tourney Pick’em fun. Like most people, Jack already has an email address. It isn’t a Yahoo email address, though,” it wrote in a blog post.

“Yesterday, Jack would have had to create a new Yahoo email address just to sign up for Yahoo Sports Tourney Pick’em. That’s not fair to Jack and just doesn’t make sense. He will probably forget the Yahoo email address he created just to play and won’t check his inbox very often…” it added.

Yahoo doesn’t disclose the exact number of its users by products. But comScore’s latest US email market share numbers show Yahoo Mail’s total number of unique visitors droping 9% year-over-year to 65 million in January 2016, trailing Gmail’s 143 million. According to a recent article by The Information, Yahoo Mail has seen its total daily active users drop by 11.5% from last year, while total minutes used per day also decreased by 31.6%.

Of course, Yahoo just said that mail is one of the 3 key pillars on which it is building its latest comeback plan. So the fact that it is embracing rival email services is not a very encouraging sign.

On a related note, Yahoo also shut down Yahoo Games, Livetext, and a number of regional properties on Friday, showing its willingness to kill non-core services and focus only on its popular services. The new signup process will only help grow Yahoo’s fantasy sports and finance services, widely considered the crown-jewel services of the company.

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