Yahoo! is planning to give free access to code for its Mail service in a bid to encourage mash-ups and independent application development.

The move, which will happen later this year, was announced as part of a ‘Yahoo! Hack Day’ aimed at helping programmers to build apps using the portal’s various services.

It sees Yahoo! taking a leaf out of Google’s book and aiming to replicate development communities which have sprung up around services such as Google Earth and Maps.

Yahoo Mail! has over 250m users, but its code has so far been restricted to certain broadband partners of Yahoo! like AT&T and BT.

Chad Dickerson, head of Yahoo!’s software developer relations programme, told Reuters: “Yahoo! is a very large company but we can’t build every applications that a user might want. You can imagine tens of thousands of niche applications [springing] from Yahoo! Mail.”

Smart move, we think.

It would be great to see more client organisations in the UK developing APIs. How might a more open approach to code and third party developers help your business? Or do you feel threatened by this sort of thing?

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