Address Book and Yahoo

When Apple announced the iPhone back in January one of the features they touted was a free Push IMAP Yahoo email account to all iPhone customers. Since iPhone launched this little feature has seen very little press coverage, if any, but it is important in understanding why Address Book in Leopard syncs with the Yahoo Mail address book.

Since Yahoo do not allow IMAP access to their email accounts it seems they are envisaging a world where people access their Yahoo email account in two ways:

1. Through the iPhones Mail application
2. Through their web browser on a desktop.

Working in this manner will ensure the mailbox remains in “sync” across the two environments. Any new mail read on the iPhone will be marked as read in Yahoo and vice versa, effectively ensuring you are using the Yahoo web interface as your desktop client.

This presents one problem. The Yahoo web interface doesn’t interact with the Address Book found in OS X, which provides the iPhone with it’s contacts. How can the two environments, share the same contacts in order to work as required?

Enter the new Leopard feature for Address Book, the ability to sync with Yahoo Mail’s address book. This solves the problem presented earlier by ensuring the iPhone address book remains in sync with the Yahoo Mail address book. All in all, a good solution to the problem, as well as being a nice free alternative to .Mac address book sync.

This leaves me asking why are people moaning about it? I can think of only two reasons.

1. Since Yahoo don’t allow IMAP access to the mail account on a desktop people don’t use the free Push IMAP as their source of email on the iPhone. This leaves them wondering why it’s there.

2. Not many people use Yahoo mail. If they want a web based email account they turn to GMail for the solution and so the option to sync with Google is more valuable.

It presents an interesting debate, and has me wondering if Yahoo plan to allow IMAP access to their webmail application or if there is another reason behind it. Are Apple aware of their “alliance” with Google and don’t want to freeze Yahoo out? Or am I missing something?