9 Sep 2011
It’s an interesting time for Yahoo! The company has struggled to generate good press in recent years following its failed Microsoft deal in 2009. The news that it’s CEO Carol Bartz was fired over the phone signals frustration. And now the company is rumoured to be up for sale.
So whilst Yahoo! remains a prominent name on the internet, where has it all gone wrong?
I remember the early days of search engines, when my choice was always between Ask Jeeves, Yahoo! and Google.
- Yahoo was launched in 1994
- Ask Jeeves was founded in 1996 and re-named Ask.com in 2005
- Google was launched in 1998 – recognised in the Top 100 Web Sites in PC Magazine
Whilst Ask.com may have faded in comparison to search engine superpower Google, it has at least found its own niche, describing itself as “the only Q&A service combining the power of search with the insight of a live user community.”
This has enabled it to survive, differentiating it from the more traditional search engines. If it can’t find the answer by crawling the web, an Ask advisor will step in to help. This strategy has enabled Ask to declare itself as the “number 1 brand for answering questions online.”
It seems that Yahoo hasn’t found this niche. When it originally started out, it used a different method than Google to power its results – without using spiders to crawl web pages. Instead, content was categorised by subject, demographic and geographic parameters.
Google then formed a partnership with Yahoo in 2000, agreeing to provide its web search engine to work alongside Yahoo!’s web directory structure. So in theory, it had the best of both worlds.
However, its primary function as a search engine has since been dwarfed by Google, with Google’s company history promoting hundreds of milestones and product developments. Whilst Yahoo! has expanded into areas such as photo site Flikr (which it acquired in 2005), they operate under separate brands, which doesn’t help with Yahoo!’s image perception.
Google on the other hand has launched a huge branded portfolio – from Google Analytics, Google Product Search, Google Earth, web browser Google Chrome and more.
It seems to me that Yahoo! hasn’t focused enough on the original search business and in expanding and investing into complementary products and services. There’s certainly not the evidence of the level of innovation as displayed by Google.
Yahoo! is now said to be up for sale at the same time as hunting for a new CEO. These two factors will cement the future of the company, with the world is watching to see how this big internet brand will make its next critical move.
What do you think its next move will be? And do you still Yahoo!?