Jeremy Zawodny posted (in reaction to Reading the Google Tea Leaves) his opinion that Google is building Yahoo 2.0.:
it’s as if someone decided to re-invent more and more of Yahoo’s popular services in random order, giving them a fresh user interface, less historical baggage, and usually one feature that really stands out (such as Gmail’s storage limit or Google Talk’s use of Jabber).
Dave Winer responded quite astutely:
Very clever, and there’s a lot of truth to it, but watch out, that’s not a very good place to be. That’s how Microsoft came to dominate the PC software industry…. It’s better to produce your own 2.0s…
I really look at the whole thing another way. Google is replaying Yahoo’s playbook circa 1996. Back then, we simply looked at what people were searching for and then built services that they wanted. Filo called the query logs “our to-do list”.
I tend to think that we’ve got a head start in understanding users and how they react to the way we roll out new features. We got to be the #1 way that people read RSS by knowing how the masses wanted to subscribe to new info, we broke convention in the way RSS was consumed (it doesn’t have to only be in a mail metaphor) and it paid off for us.
If Google really is trying to do what we did 10 years ago, of course they are gonna try to be “Yahoo done better” and that’s something to really watch out for. Yahoo! Maps was a leading product and Google launched Yahoo Maps 2.o – and you all loved it. That sucked for Yahoo. Now we launched a better maps, but we should have launched the new Yahoo Maps before they did.
So Dave – you are right. If Yahoo’s gonna win, we need to take our 10 years of experience and launch our own Yahoo 2.0 well before MSFT and GOOG know what’s happening.
I think Google was the best thing to happen to Yahoo!
Y! dominated for so long that we get lazy and sat on our success
without any real need to enhance our products.
Every Y! property needs to examine the way their product works
and ask themself how they can build a disruptive feature.
This also reminds me of the Japanese back in the 70’s when they came out with Automobile 2.0
Y! went into a kind of product stasis for a few years there. In 1996, 97, 98, 99 we went like gangbusters. 2000-2003 yhoo spent more time re-orging than building stuff.
I left at the end of 1999 because yhoo was starting to look exactly like Apple looked in the late 80s, the product line was big and unfocused, people were becoming way too concerned about titles and the way management wanted to fix it all was re-org all the groups every 3 months or so.
They have recently seemed more focused, I think goog kicked them back to life to a certain extent.
Good point Erik. I had forgotten how much time management spent shuffling people around and chasing after things that amounted to a lot of nothing. I do see that now competition has been a great thing for yahoo (and consumers).