Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Yahoo may not be built to last

As a consumer of Yahoo services, I’m concerned about the future of the once-dominant Web portal.
Over the years, Yahoo has fallen behind Google, Facebook and others as go-to Web services. It has let core services atrophy, seen talented workers leave and gone through rounds of layoffs and other cost-cutting moves. Yahoo also has had a deplorable record of making acquisitions and then letting those promising businesses die.
Since firing CEO Carol Bartz (its 3rd chief executive in less than five years) in September, Yahoo is rumored to have put itself up for sale.
I hope that if Yahoo is sold, the new owners can get Yahoo back on the right path and improve upon the things that it does well.
Yahoo’s strength has been as a Web portal, a starting point for people launching their browsers. It acts as a modern newspaper, aggregating news and information important to users. I particularly love the My Yahoo page, which I’ve customized with news categories that interest me. Yahoo’s Finance webpages also are top notch. But there’s room for improving them. And Yahoo must do a better job bringing those services to smartphones and tablets as well.
I’ve been using Yahoo’s e-mail service for about 14 years. My first Web-based e-mail address was with RocketMail, which Yahoo acquired in 1997. I stuck with Yahoo because it seemed like the company was built to last.
In 2005, I became a paying subscriber of Yahoo’s Flickr photo-hosting service and still use it today.
I’m concerned about Yahoo’s future. As a consumer, I’ve gotten used to Yahoo’s services and would hate having to start over someplace else.
But that’s the ephemeral nature of the Web. Services and websites can’t be counted on to stick around.

Photo: Yahoo billboard in Silicon Valley, photo by Fred Abercrombie of Unnecessary Umlaut.

Resources:

“Yahoo’s 3Q shows company remains in financial funk” (Oct. 18, 2011; Associated Press)

“Yahoo Profit Falls 26%, but Its Media Sites Draw More Views” (Oct. 18, 2011; Reuters)

“Yahoo Has a Crowd, Wants a Voice” (Oct. 3, 2011; New York Times)

“Content Deluge Swamps Yahoo” (Sept. 8, 2011; Wall Street Journal)

“At Flickr, Fending Off Rumors and Facebook” (Jan. 30, 2011; New York Times)

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