Yahoo! Searches Itself and Finds Nothing


yahoosearchesitselfandfindsnothing_socialnerdiaBy now most people know that Microsoft has finally scored the deal it's been wanting for quite a while. I'm guessing CEO Steve Ballmer still gets a little annoyed when thinking about all the trouble and time he wasted trying to get Yahoo! to give in. Then again, maybe things would've gone horribly wrong if Yahoo! had accepted what now sounds like a crazy initial offer.

The fact is that Yahoo! was so concerned with how much they could get out of Microsoft (or maybe how cool they would be by playing difficult) that they lost track of their purpose.

Yes, Yahoo!'s purpose in life was search. That's how I know about them. That's how you found out about them. Ok, to be fair, maybe some folks that still use Yahoo! Mail don't realize this, but they probably only recently made the switch from AOL, so that doesn't really count.

For most people on this Earth of ours, Yahoo! used to be a synonym for search engine.

Well, no longer. And with that, Yahoo! proves that they not only lost the #1 position many years ago, but that they also didn't realize just how important search was. I mean, if they cared about search, they would've done something about it, right?

yahoowhoWrong. Yahoo! was so concerned with becoming a portal, becoming the source for movie information (I admit it, Yahoo! movies is pretty good), capturing screenshots of Geocities and Flickr (instead of enhancing them), and wondering if red or purple is cuter, etc. that they totally forgot about the reason for their very existence.

So, while Yahoo! slept and dreamed about getting flirtatious notes from Ballmer and Co., and Google grew into the cloud monster it now is, Microsoft realized that search was, well, kind of important. So they acquired companies, found new talent with actual personalities, and came up with marketing ideas that start with "decision" and end in "engine."

Microsoft focused as much as possible on what search wasn't, what it could be, and how they would market it to people who are way too lazy to Google elsewhere. And, of course, they lost sleep trying to get Yahoo! to marry them, or at least have a kid together. Yahoo! said no time and time again (in the midst of a crazy confusing recession) until they woke up one morning after a very scary Bing-branded nightmare, and they had no other option but to say "maybe". And now that they are not married and don't have a kid together, they could've easily said their new relationship status is simply "complicated," but instead they went with "we're a partnership."  Right...

Everyone says that this is all to take Google out. Perhaps, but I think Microsoft is more concerned about being around till the end of time than about killing Google. No one will kill Google and everyone knows that. Just ask Jeeves, AOL, WolframAlpha, Mahalo, and the yet to be born Blekko.

But being second place is not a bad place to be for this apparently revitalized Microsoft, especially when Yahoo! will soon proudly advertise the Bing name right under the "Web Search" button. Who knows? With an established and innovative Xbox 360 console, a tolerable Windows Phone platform, some retail stores, controversial advertising, a cloud-friendly Office 2010, and the eternal cash cow known as Windows, Microsoft might start becoming somewhat cool again.

And alas, tomorrow is another day, and Yahoo! is just another web site.

Copyright © Esteban Contreras. All rights reserved.