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Yahoo! brews HTML5 mail for iPhone

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Hadoop Summit Yahoo! is developing an HTML5 incarnation of its web-based mail service for use on the Jesus Phone.

The company's new chief product officer — former Microsoftee Blake Irving — unveiled this new-age version of Yahoo! Mail this morning at the Hadoop Summit in Santa Clara. What does this have to do with Hadoop, the open source distributed number crunching platform? Not much. But Irving is doing every thing he can to convince the world that Yahoo! is still a technology company. Which it is.

Like so many others, Yahoo! is using the HTML5 handle in the broadest of senses. By HTML5, it means the latest web standards, including not only HTML5 but things like CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and JavaScript. The new HTML5 Yahoo! Mail is not a downloadable application. It's a web service accessible solely through a browser. But Yahoo! is tailoring the service for use on specific devices and operating systems, beginning with the iPhone.

The company will also offer versions specifically built for the iPad, Android, and Palm's webOS. Irving said the iPhone incarnation will be released "pretty soon," and Yahoo! research head Prabhakar Raghavan told us it's likely to arrive sometime this summer.

Though this is not a downloadable application, Raghavan tells us that Yahoo! will likely offer the service through the Apple App Store and other mobile application marketplaces. This would involve users, well, grabbing a free web link from the store and adding an icon to their mobile devices. But this only makes sense. Though the Googles of the world have promised that web apps "have won," the reality is most mobile applications must be downloaded and they're funneled through app stores.

Google is already offering an HTML5 version of Gmail for both the iPhone and Android. These were announced in April of last year. ®

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