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Chapter #32: Yahoo! - Fighting Its Last Battle? - December 8, 2007


Yahoo! Logo (http://jamesmcgillis.com)

There Must be a Bunch of Yahoos Running That Company.

 
Do you remember not so long ago (around the turn of the last century) when Web Portals were all the rage? Starting mostly as web browsers in the mid-1990s, an all-out fight developed among old media companies to capture a “sticky space” on the internet.  Newbies to the Web needed a place to call “Home”, and for awhile, portals seemed to be that place.
 
As the Web matured Netscape became a part of America Online, the Walt Netscape Communicator Logo (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Disney Company bought Go.com, and Excite and @Home became a part of AT&T.  Lycos, another early entrant sold out to Network Solutions.  Other portals started out as web directories (Yahoo!) or search engines (Excite, Lycos, AltaVista, Infoseek, and Hotbot).
  
There was a rush to expand services to portal users, including free email, customization features for news, weather and sports, chatrooms and instant messaging.  All of these features were designed to make users stay longer, thus exposing them to more paid advertising.
 
The portal craze, with "old media" companies racing to outbid each other for Internet properties, flamed out in 2000 and 2001. Disney pulled the plug on Go.com, Excite went bankrupt and its remains were sold to iWon.com.  Yahoo and MSN remained successful portals until the simplicity of Google’s interface and its unmatched page-loading speed took millions of users away, apparently for good.
 
Los Angeles Times Logo (http://jamesmcgillis.com)With all of that history and Yahoo! looking more and more like an old media company, which just happens to do business on the Web, I was not surprised to read an LA Times article this week that quoted Jerry Yang, Yahoo! CEO as having a vision that “Yahoo become the home page of choice by connecting computer users to what they care about”.  From his office in Santa Monica, California, Senior VP, Scott Moore, who made his name at Yahoo! overseeing news, sports and finance (speaking of old media information) will now also get a crack at entertainment, including games and video.
 
Currently, Yahoo! Has a My Yahoo! Beta available, but when I tried it, a bog box popped up with a swirly thing that said “Loading”.  I am sad to say that it never fully loaded and I never got to customize my own page.  Contrast this with iGoogle, which allows a limited portal offering, but loads in seconds and is customized and ready to go in 30 seconds.  Good luck to Yahoo and their attempt to “turn back time”.  It didn’t work for Cher and it hasn’t worked for the military planners of our world, who are always planning to “fight the last war”.
 
While researching this article, I did have fun visiting old portal sites.  When I Excite Logo (http://jamesmcgillis.com)got to Excite and jiggled it enough to cough up My Excite from before the dot-com meltdown, I was thrilled to see my old stock list still there.  The only problem was that half the stocks I had invested in back then are no longer in business today.  Yahoo is still there, but will it still be an independent corporation when I go back to My Stocks in another seven years?
 
Although Excite itself is not much more than a feeder site for iWon’s ridiculous “money giveaway site”, it has some great features.  In less than five minutes I had My Excite customized to show “My” Weather (in three different cities), Original small Google logo (http://jamesmcgillis.com)“My” Sunrise/Sunset, “My” Tides (in Santa Monica Bay), “My” Moon (Phase/Rise/Set), “My” (beleaguered) Stocks and “My” Columnists.  Wow! Or should I say, “Yahoo!?”  That information was so “sticky”; I bookmarked it and plan to go back often.
 
Google maintains that their “motivation isn’t to provide sticky services”.  Isn’t it great when “old energy” (Yahoo!) challenges “new energy” (Google).  Gee, I wonder who is going to win this one. 


By James McGillis at 12:17 PM | Technology | Comments (0) | Link

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