Name or no, the project is designed to have a deep impact on the way people interact with their email—and one another. The new interface will continue to integrate email and IM, as well as offering other capabilities. For a sampling of the technology, check out this example from ZDNet (via TC; photo also from ZDNet):
He [CEO Jerry Yang] gave an example of planning a dinner for CES. You can drag the thread into a map and it will bring up the profiles of those on the mail, note preferences (for food in this case) and suggest restaurants in the area. You can also take an email message, pop up the profiles of those on the message, takes an address from email and show it a map.
This information will also be accessible to third-party apps. These capabilities are based on the technology acquired with Zimbra.
My favorite part of this setup is the fact that, according to ZDNet, “based on frequency and volume of communications[,] email is reordered on the strength of the connections.” Meanwhile, similar attempts from another major search engine’s IM client, feed reader and webmail interface (which shall remain nameless) want to force us to be friends with anyone we’ve ever emailed.
While I do think that Yahoo Mail users should be given the option to opt out of the service, I also think that this is one of the few new social networks that won’t have any trouble gaining a broad audience. However, they’ll want to keep their eye on Google and GMail, which look to be headed in the same direction, and quickly.
Check out ZDNet for more screenshots from Yang’s “sneak peek” at CES.