OffBeat

'Yahoo Ending' puts the last nail in the coffin of dead users in Japan

Graveyard photo from Disneyland
Image Credit: Sam Howzit/Flickr

Yahoo is getting into the death business.

Yahoo Japan is offering a new service to those who die: The option to send emails to family and friends once the inevitable happens.
The service begins when the user is still breathing. And it begins with an email.

The new feature is called Yahoo Ending, and for good reason. It solves a modern-age conundrum of what happens to user email accounts — and everything contained within, like files, photos and videos — when the individual dies. It’s particularly helpful for family members who don’t have the account password in order to close it down.

Yahoo Ending, announced last week and reported in the Washington Post, works like this: When a user who has signed up for the service dies, paying $1.80 per month for the honor, Yahoo Japan terminates the account, deleting everything inside it, including accounts with Yahoo premium services, like Yahoo Box and Yahoo Wallet.

The rub here is that you sign up and pay the fees while you’re still alive. If you’re 23, don’t smoke and work out regularly, that amount could be a huge tally. The fees, uh hum, are terminated after death.

The account holder who signs on for the service first pre-writes an email, which can be sent to up to 200 people, which is blasted out after the end comes. The $1.80 per month price tag also means users get a virtual “memorial wall” where those who are sad can post fond memories, for example.

Yahoo Japan is a joint venture between the Sunnyvale-based IT company and SoftBank and was launched in 1996.

The service is accompanied by this tagline, translated from the Japanese: “If today was the last day of your life, would you be ready for the journey?”

It’s an excellent question, sure. The service comes with an introductory video which shows a Japanese family gathered in a family room when all of a sudden, their cell phones start beeping.

A text message then comes through, declaring: “If you’re reading this now, it means I’ve already left this world … I promised that I would never die before you, my wife, so I’m sorry. I had a really happy life thanks to you.”

When they sign up, subscribers get a so-called booking number, given to someone they trust, like a family member or a friend. When you die, that user gets a message to call the booking number, and the grim news is revealed, the Post explained.

But Yahoo Japan doesn’t end it there (pun intended). By teaming up with a funeral services company, Yahoo Japan also offers the ultimate death package. For $4,500, Yahoo Ending clients get an embalming, cremation, and a wake for 30.

But it costs more, 30 clams per head, if you want to feed your guests.