Battle for Relevance: Yahoo
When I asked Twitter the other day, “Who will become more irrelevant (or die) first – Microsoft or Yahoo?” I can’t say I was surprised by the overwhelming response answering Yahoo, or maybe it was more along the lines of “Yahoo is relevant?” I think you get the point. When Michael Arrington interviewed Yahoo CEO at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York City back in May one of the first questions he asked her was “What is Yahoo?” Her response? “Yahoo is a company that is very strong in content. It’s moving towards the web of one. We have 32,000 variations on our front page module. We serve a million of those a day. It’s all customized. Our click-through rate went up twice since we started customizing this. People come to check the things they like. Yahoo is one site people always stop at.” Does that truly answer the question? I guess it answers it somewhat, but not really.
Which brings me to the question of is Yahoo still relevant and if it is how long will it remain relevant? Now keep in mind the people I asked on Twitter are tech savvy individuals and while there is nothing wrong with that, it can sometimes skew results. Nonetheless, I understand when Carol Bartz stepped in Yahoo was in quite the mess and I’m not expecting immediate results and for things to turn around within a few months or even the first couple of years. I don’t think Yahoo will die anytime soon – it has a very strong brand name that’s definitely well established, but will Yahoo show any growth or will it flatline or start declining (in terms of traffic)?
Yahoo seems to want to do what Aol is attempting to do in creating huge amounts of content. Essentially an information hub, but they either don’t want to say it or just aren’t 100% dead set on the idea. If either of those are true, that is bad news for Yahoo – it shows lack of confidence in their future and current business model. Which is always worrisome. We all know how easy it is to become “obsolete” on the Internet. Look at what Facebook did to MySpace.
And face it, Yahoo isn’t doing anything currently that another site can’t do. Many of Yahoo’s properties compete with other major sites (e.g. OMG competes with TMZ among many other sites). Yahoo isn’t involved in search anymore either really, now they have sold their souls to Microsoft in that Bing partnership. It’s not a very sunny situation over there in Sunnyvale (pun intended). I think Yahoo needs to find itself and perhaps a new product too. There are way too many players in online publishing and content; I know I say that while I, myself, write and produce content, but it’s absolutely true and with Aol trying to do the same thing it doesn’t look good.
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