Yahoo has had a bad year. In a week or so, I’ll probably be able to update this post with a link to a timeline (I’m sure someone will do a Yahoo review for 2010).

The current month might be labelled the December of dumping Delicious, one of the hot social media properties when we used to call social media Web 2.0. A recent review at Mashable reminds us that Yahoo initially declared Declicious’ status to be “sunset,” then declared it to be for sale, but adds that a sale of Delicious might not be easy or even appropriate.

I use Yahoo for two things. One is email. I’d like to be able to get to my Ymail from the Android mail app, but since basic Yahoo mail doesn’t allow straightforward use of IMAP or SMTPs, I have to use the Android browser.

I also use Flickr. My Flickr Pro account is one of the few examples of my paying for a freemium service.

I’ve been very happy with Flickr, and have not been too annoyed since the Yahoo acquisition. So maybe my Flickr photo for this post about Yahoo is rather snide; or maybe Yahoo is like a precarious, storm-battered shack.

But my confidence is Yahoo has sunk below the point at which I can recommend Flickr. It has not yet sunk below the point at which I will use Flickr.

As we head into 2011, I’m regretting that each of the two Yahoo services I use is rather sticky. Perhaps it was silly to use an email address with a domain I don’t own (andrew at changingway dot org, now that makes more sense). I have thousands of photos at Flickr, some of which are linked to from this blog and from other sites.

Perhaps Yahoo will be the comeback kid of 2011. I don’t see that happening, though.

This is my first tweet in a while, and I’m not using Twitter.com or a specialized Twitter client in order to do so. I’m using the Publicize feature of WordPress.com, which can set configured to send posts to Twitter and to Yahoo Updates.

Twitter reminds me of a conversation I had, long ago and far away, about getting a home computer. My friend Mike asked: “What would I do with one? Index my toenail clippings?”

Tweets are the toenail clippings of social media. Twitter is a platform because it enables third parties to index the toenail clippings. It sounds silly, and maybe it is, but Twitter has caught on, rather as home computers did all those years ago. Perhaps they are on the decline now, as mobile devices are on the rise.

Talking of declines, this post is also going to Yahoo…

New Yahoo Mobile Homepage

October 9, 2009

I haven’t quite given up on Yahoo, so when I saw the ReadWriteWeb post about the new Yahoo mobile homepage, I decided to give said homepage a try. I got round to it this morning, and was at once underwhlemed and amazed. The home page itself was underwhelming.

The “content” was the amazing part. Under the Today tab, the lead story is “Nobel Stunner: Obama wins peace prize.” It claims that Barack Obama has won the Nobel peace prize. While I am certainly not anti-Obama, I don’t see that his months (not years, not yet even one year) as President make him a serious contender for the award.

I would include a screenshot, but I discover that Android does not include a screenshot application. I then see another of today’s top stories on Yahoo mobile today: “Android may leapfrog the iPhone.”

Yeah right, and Yahoo has just launched “the world’s most advanced mobile homepage” (those are the words of a Yahoo exec). Rather, it has used an April fool’s day in October ploy to garner publicity for the new homepage. I guess I fell for it.

I occasionally post MP3s here and elsewhere. I’m not really a music blogger. But, thanks to Box.net and to its anonymous accomplice, I felt like one recently. I received what I think is my first takedown notice.

Hence Crowded House’s lovely acoustic version of “Fall at Your Feet” can no longer be heard at my WordPlay blog. The post affected is about the Yahoo Media Player (see also this post here at Changing Way).

I don’t know who objected: Box.net didn’t specify in the email they sent. I’m sure it wasn’t Neil Finn or any other member of Crowded House, living or dead.

Forward Into the Future

September 14, 2009

IMG_2243Having a smarter phone, and hence a more mobile web, is making me rethink multiple aspects of the web and how I use it. For example, I thought of streamlining my use of email. Right now, I have three main email accounts, and am on more than a few distribution lists. I don’t know how many lists I’m on, which strongly suggests that I’m on too many.

It might make sense to choose one email, autoforward the others to that mailbox, and get off most or all of the distribution lists. That would give me manageable mobile email.

But one of the emails is andrew dot watson at yahoo.com. To autoforward from that mailbox would cost me $20 a year, every year for the forseeable future. In Yahoo’s helpful words: Yahoo! Mail allows you to forward messages that come to your Yahoo! Mail Plus account to another email address. I emphasize Plus because Plus includes forwarding and POP access, whereas basic Yahoo mail does not include these features, basic though they seem to me.

I shouldn’t be too hard on Yahoo (especially since I own some shares). It’s not the only site that charges for forwarding. The site that hosts this blog has a similar policy in place if you want to redirect yourblogname.wordpress.com (as well as all of your permalinks) to your new domain name. The WordPress policy is similar to the Yahoo policy, but it’s not identical. It costs $10, rather than $20, a year.

That leads me to the following recommendations.

  1. For service providers, such as Automattic (owners of WordPress.com) and Yahoo: consider offering a “forward forever” deal. I’d suggest pricing it at twice the cost of one year’s forwarding. That way, the user gets to pay and forget, rather than being reminded every year that they need to keep paying for a service they don’t really us. That would be good for reputation, goodwill, etc. – and for cash flow, in that you’d get money now, rather than in future year.
  2. For web service users, especially content creators, think about leaving a service before you think about using that service. This echoes the advice given to firefighters: don’t go into a building without knowing your way out.
  3. For web service users again: own your own domain. I’ve taken my own advice here, by owning changingway.org. On the other hand, I don’t own flickr.com, which is where I keep most of my photos (including the one used in this post).

But that brings me back to Yahoo, which owns Flickr, and forward to consideration of getting photos out of Flickr and other photo services…. which deserves a separate post.

So, what isn’t (just) search? The last week or two has given us great insight into this question.

  • Yahoo is not a search company. Good call by CEO Carol Bartz. I’m glad to see that the stock has gone up: I bought some a few months ago, on the basis that things couldn’t get much worse without provoking a takeover.
  • Wolfram Alpha is not a search engine. It’s “a computational knowledge engine,” and so can do some things better than Google or other search engines.
  • Bing is, according to one of its URLs and to the video currently there, a decision engine. I agree with Erick at TechCrunch that Bing isn’t the best name. It makes me think of the singer, and of the song “I’m dreaming of a blue screen of death“.

For the record, I’m not a search engine either. I am married with children.

Even though its stock has plummeted, Yahoo still has a lot going for it. For example, there’s the more than 200 million Ymail users (including me, although andrew at changingway dot org is the best address for email related to this blog). Many have remarked that Yahoo should do more with and for that userbase (again including me).

How about Ymail as an application platform? That would be obvious, and perhaps late, given what Facebook, Google, and others have been up to. But better late than never, and Om reports that Y seem to be taking the better course.

The program is expected to launch in beta relatively soon with half a dozen small applications running in a sidebar inside the Yahoo mail client (Evite is one of the services that is said to be building a nano-app for this new Yahoo Mail-as-a-platform). Users’ address books would act as a social graph, essentially turning Yahoo Mail into the basis of a whole new social networking experience.

The main problem I see is that the good ship Yahoo seems to be sinking, and so application developers may not want to move resources on to it, and users may not want to keep their stuff on it. Perhaps it needs a new captain…

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