After 10 years I'm seemingly still a stranger to Yahoo

I’ve been Yahoo user for about a decade, dating back to the mid-to-late 90’s. and I’ve never really had many complaints over the years. I use and rely on a number of Yahoo’s core applications and until recently haven’t had much if any motivation to move elsewhere. I believe Yahoo’s single largest problem is remarkably similar to Microsoft’s dropping the ball after IE 6. Only after some real competition appeared did they realize the error they made and began work on IE 7. Of course, by then they had lost the geek mind share and unwillingly let the “Fox” out of the bag. MS is now faced with far more browser competition with Firefox, Opera and Safari than they ever did back when IE 6 shipped.

For me, Yahoo is slowly fading away as I’ve nearly moved away from every major Yahoo property I’ve used over the past 10 years. Here’s a run down…

Yahoo Mail


Google GMail

For me, Y! mail has more or less been the cornerstone of Yahoo’s applications I use on a regular basis. I’ve considered my Yahoo email address as my single primary personal email address since the mid to late nineties. The UI has changed very little over the past ten years until fairly recently when they rolled out, over an extended beta period, technology acquired from $g(Oddpost). I’ve tried the new UI probably a dozen times and it has yet to stick (for many reasons not the least of which is speed) though I’m sure there’ll come a day in the not too distant future when I’ll be stuck with Yahoo’s Outlook Web Access ripoff.


Of course, along came $g(GMail) which is a high tech, low glitz email application that not only kicks Yahoo’s old UI to the curb but beats it’s new UI in both speed and functionality. Why didn’t Yahoo incrementally update the old UI over time to incorporate not only new functionality but leverage knowledge which accumulates daily about me as a user who returns to their site many times a day?

Yahoo Calendar


Google Calendar

The next MVP of Yahoo properties for me is Calendar which, again, has the same aging familiar UI that’s been around for 10+ years. I have no idea when or if it’s going to be upgraded but until Google Calendar appeared on the radar I had no good reason to move. Once again, here is a great example of an application that could have been incrementally improved to keep me interested and locked but that simply hasn’t happened. At this point, I’ve all but switched from Yahoo Calendar in favor of Google. Again, Google’s UI isn’t glitzy but it’s fast, works well and innovates over Yahoo’s beleaguered offering. I’ve left my Yahoo calendar intact but I’ve pretty much moved day-to-day use to Google Calendar.


Yahoo Photos



Yet another Yahoo property I used frequently to share photos with my extended family. Of course, Photos has been discontinued in favor of another acquisition, Flickr which I’ve never gotten into. Why? Because once again Google released Picasa which for me was long time missing piece that Yahoo never provided. I never had any luck using any of Yahoo’s Photo upload tools and constantly ran into installation problems and subsequent timeouts and failures. When Yahoo purchased Flickr I knew the writing was on the wall for Y! Photos nudging me enough to look around for other offerings. I’d tried Google Photos but having established a large album of photos on Yahoo I was hesitant to switch until, of course, Google nailed the web upload problem using Picasa and its web upload feature.


My Yahoo


Google News

For over a decade I’ve used My Yahoo as my home page and over the years I’d swapped out various modules on my home page though most of the time I kept it very light as speed was a top priority. Of course, that all came crashing down when I made the colossally stupid decision of merging my Yahoo account with my AT&T DSL account. It’s safe to say that Yahoo still hasn’t recovered my full respect for that complete mess. My once fast loading, succinct home page became a slow loading image laden crapfest that I was only partially able to fix through nearly a dozen $g(Privoxy) filters many of which I still use today. Not to mention Yahoo’s half hearted attempt at putting RSS feeds on my home page which I still don’t think work right after all this time. Lastly, along came Google News and there went one more reason I had to look at My Yahoo page.

Yahoo’s LaunchCAST Music


LaunchCAST is Yahoo’s acquired music service which I’ve been a fan of since the very early days. In fact, I’ve been a premium subscriber for a number of years now and I still enjoy the service. In the beginning the innovation around station customization was very good though the last few years have seen little change and no innovation. At this point, I still enjoy my station and the ad free streams so I haven’t had any desire to move but given the lack of attention and new competition I’m considering dropping my premium subscription. I certainly won’t be surprised when either new music ceases to show up or the whole thing gets the Yahoo Photo treatment.

Yahoo Messenger

Since this doesn’t really relate to the site all I’ll say here is that I’ve dropped it in favor of Trillian because MSN interoperability is important to me and Yahoo’s MSN support simply doesn’t work.

Now What?

I look at Yahoo these days with essentially no search presence, a failed social network (Yahoo 360) and all of the above and it sort of makes me sad. Here is this company I’ve visited nearly every day for the past ten years and I feel like I’m a complete stranger yet Yahoo probably “knows” more about me than any other web company on the planet. It seems so strange over all this time they couldn’t manage to figure out how to capitalize on all the information they have about me (along with millions of other people) like my address book, calendar, emails, news interests, shopping purchases, sports interests, stock watches, clicked stories, rated music (~6,500 ratings) and on and on for ten years.

You’d think they’d have some sort of software in place that would trigger an email or something saying “Hey, we notice you’re not ’round these parts much lately, everything ok?” but that’s just not going to happen. At this rate, I’ll walk out the door and have to turn the light off myself.

3 thoughts on “After 10 years I'm seemingly still a stranger to Yahoo

  1. Great opinion piece, Steve. I share your concern and inability to understand Yahoo’s inertia with so many of its products, though I can honestly say that I’ve not had the problems with the new Yahoo Mail and MSN messenger support that you have, so I’ve had no cause to abandon them, though I can certainly understand why you did.
    Although I don’t work directly with the IT industry as you do, I do so tangentially and have long considered myself a Yahoo fan/critic. Over the past two years or so I’ve been fortunate enough to have a direct line of communication with people inside the company, and my early joy at being able to sound-off to people on the inside has turned to frustration as I watch the company plod along.
    I consider about half of what I read in the IT blogosphere to be little more than Yahoo-bashing and/or irrational exuberance about Google, that still leaves way too much that is valid criticism of the company and all but unforgivable given Yahoo’s incredible array of assets and talent. I have called out more than one IT editorial or blog post that raved about a new Google service that was old-hat at Yahoo, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s a perception that Yahoo is a laggard instead of a leader, and anymore perception can be just as damning as reality.
    Two quick observations/comments before I let you go: Yahoo!360’s demise isn’t just a social networking failure for Yahoo; it’s also going to eliminate the company’s blogging platform. While I think it’s possible to excuse Yahoo for blowing the former, the latter is a real failure on their part. Google hasn’t exactly set the world on fire with Orkut or Blogger, but to their credit they are improving on both and have abandoned neither.
    The one other area where I think Yahoo doesn’t get enoug credit or criticism is with " part of their offerings. In terms of quantity, they’re way out in front of their competitors, but in terms of quality they’re dropping the ball (their Brand Universe initiative comes to mind).

  2. Jeff,
    Thank you and thanks for the comment. Btw, I don’t edit comments so I’m not sure what was dropped, hopefully not much but apologies if that was the case.
    Fwiw, I’ve been quite slow switching over to Google largely because Yahoo has fit my needs quite well but the fairly constant stream of tweaks and improvements to many of Google’s properties makes it very hard not to "test the waters" when my Yahoo stalwarts are stuck in idle.
    I have friends working at Yahoo and I know they’re putting in hours to try and work out a lot of these issues and I certainly wish them luck, I’m just not holding my breath at this point.

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