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Meet MyMail, password-free email for a PC-free world

Mark Hachman | April 25, 2014
Why do you need another email account again? Dmitry Grishin has 150 gigabytes of reasons for you, and an app to go with it.

Why do you need another email account again? Dmitry Grishin has 150 gigabytes of reasons for you, and an app to go with it.

In Russia, Mail.ru is the equivalent to a Yahoo or Google: By its count, it boasts over 100 million users, with 17 million more visiting its Mail.ru MyWorld site every month. Now, the company plans to launch a smaller, American version of the service, called My.com, on Thursday.

Essentially, My.com consists of four parts: Three services, called MyMail, MyChat, and MyGames, quietly launched last fall.The first two are also apps, which were added to the Android and iOS app stores at that time. MyGames is a portal to games that can be downloaded to Windows PC, Android and iOS devices.

The fourth, the My.com email service, launches Thursday. It offers users 150 GB of free email storage, far more than the 15 GB of shared storage that Google gives users via its cloud services, including Gmail. And it will be tied into the MyMail app, which you can already use to manage your other email services.

But there's an interesting catch: To access the new My.com email account, you can't use your PC. Or a password.

Dmitry Grishin, the co-founder of Mail.ru, explained that the service was designed for mobile users, from the ground up.

"Historically, email was designed many many years ago, to use on the desktop," Grishin said in an interview. "You have emails, you have passwords, and usually in minds of millions of people, if you go to your PC, you write a letter, send some documents to other people. But how you use email is completely changed on mobile. We see... that on mobile, we have access to your email always. You can receive notifications of new emails, have communication much quicker. And what we found is the the traditional way of email is not working very well for mobile."

Instead, a new generation of email users is growing up thinking they don't need to sit down at a PC to check their email, Grishin said. And that led to several "cool ideas" that the company developed to take advantage of that. Number one: no passwords.

Passwords: bad for security?

Passwords, according to Grishin, cause all sorts of problems: They're forgotten, they need to be changed, or they can be stolen by hackers or by phishing attempts. MyMail's model is based upon WhatsApp, which doesn't use passwords either. Instead, the service sends a text message to the user's phone to authenticate it. 

The password-less WhatsApp model has led some users to criticize WhatsApp for poor security practices. In 2012, for example, users discovered that WhatsApp was using a phone's IMEI code as an unofficial password. Other hacks have also been published. For his part, Grishin didn't go into detail about how My.com secures its data, saying only that "all traffic is encrypted." Moreover, My.com does not use IMAP, POP, or SMTP internally, although it can manage accounts that use those protocols."We think if you use mobile, and in particular email on mobile, you don't need passwords," Grishin said.

 

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