H4cked off: Work from home? Couldn't Yahoo just work on Ymail?

By Graeme Burton
26 Feb 2013 View Comments
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That means that people automatically go to Google not just to search for something - web pages - but information that all ties together. Together, these separate services have become greater than the sum of their parts: maps, images, videos, pictures, and all presented in context, too.

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What is more, it retains its lead by making sure that it does all this better than anyone else, on more platforms than other companies, and ensuring that its services are tested across multiple devices, operating systems and browsers. Very often they will work flexibly, too, with or without Javascript, for example.

Wanna run Gmail on your old Nokia Symbian smartphone? No problem, Google's got a good app for that. Yahoo hasn't.

But nor has Yahoo tested Ymail across the full range of browsers, or tested it over shonky wireless connections, or on sub-optimal equipment (or even just office PCs throttled by security software and other corporate-imposed performance restrictions).

Yahoo's semi-captive installed base with Ymail is quite possibly the only reason why most of its users ever "hit" any of its other real estate. Yet Yahoo's recent "refresh" of Ymail left it slower and more unreliable than ever. It only runs on the standard browsers and if you're not running Javascript, you're not going to be able to run Ymail.

Of course, it's unfair to damn a new CEO purely on the strength of his or her first six or so months in office.

But ploughing on with the "media company" strategy, as Mayer has asserted, is just a continuation of the failed strategy that saw Yahoo comprehensively eclipsed in the first place. There are any number of media companies that offer considerably better media than Yahoo, and it does not have the know-how or channels to market to be anything other than a niche player in media.

Instead, it needs to go back to its roots. It needs to re-establish its credentials as a search company and branch out from there - follow the Google template, then offer an alternative.

It needs to start providing some real competition to Google in the monopoly that Yahoo's insouciance and reluctance to defend the very business that it pioneered handed to Google.

After all, wasn't the real purpose of bringing Mayer on board at Yahoo (at no great expense) to bring with it all the distilled wisdom she learnt and applied at Google?

Indeed, if Yahoo really wanted to focus on "media", wouldn't it have made sense to have recruited someone from that sector instead?

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