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January 06, 2006

Yahoo! Go shows how to connect the Internet to devices

Yahoo! announced its new Yahoo! Go suite, which consists of Yahoo! Go Mobile, Yahoo! Go TV, and Yahoo! Go Desktop. I think it’s significant because Yahoo! shows how a traditional Internet content and service provider can link to devices like phones and TVs. Here’s a quick overview and specific highlights:

-         The Yahoo! Go concept: Anything that you can access on Yahoo! through your browser will also be available on your desktop (outside of your browser), on your phone, and on your TV.

-         Yahoo! Go Mobile is a really nice connection between your phone and your Yahoo service. Snap a photo and have it appear on Yahoo! Photos (Finally! An easy way to get photos off of my camera phone). A phone number you enter on Yahoo! Addresses shows up on your phone’s address book. I personally LOVE this idea of a universal contact list, especially as I am prone to losing my cell phone!

-         Yahoo! Go Desktop is a repositioning of Yahoo! Widgets (a.k.a. Konfabulator) to puts individual services directly on the desktop. Yahoo! also announced Dashboard, which is very similar to Google Sidebar and MSN’s Dashboard (available only to MSN ISP customers). One key improvement: the user can see activities from people on their buddy lists, for example, a new post on Yahoo! 360 or Web page tagged via Yahoo! My Web. This is similar to the connectivity within Windows Live which taps into Messenger to show “gleams” of activity by your buddies.

-         Yahoo! Go TV which puts music playlists and Yahoo’s video search on the TV. It’s great especially for showing a slideshow of your Yahoo! Photos on the big screen. I didn’t find this rendition that compelling (nice, just not compelling). But tucked away in the corner of the demonstrations was a concept screen that showed how content like RSS feeds and Yahoo! entertainment content could be integrated on to the television. For example, if you’re watching a football game, go and check your sports feeds. If you’re watching a movie, go and get more information about the star, what other movies they are in, or even purchase the DVD on Yahoo! shopping (see the screenshots I’ve uploaded below -- note that one of the screenshots includes an in-line add for a Howard Stern show.) The compelling idea is that you can customize the television experience with content from the Web.   

A few thoughts on these announcements:

-         Compared to the reported announcements (via WSJ) from Google later today, Yahoo!’s Go announcements have a strong connection to consumer electronics and will have a much bigger impact over time than either Google Video or Google Pack. This is because it sets off a race among phone and device makers to tap into the Yahoo!’s large user base. But it’s also worrying because the investment that service providers have made in their own services is now to tie in users becomes less important if the user can take their services with them from phone to phone, provider to provider. I believe that device manufacturers will be more willing than their provider counterparts to let users choose between Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Google mobile solutions – or mix and match as they please.

-         Go Mobile in particular expands Yahoo’s reach beyond the desktop – Yahoo! stated that there are 2 billion mobile phone users around the world, compared to 900 million Internet users). To this point, Yahoo! allows for the first time new sign-ups to a Yahoo! account via Go Mobile.

-         Yahoo!’s promise to keep the platform open will be closely watched. At the conclusion of his speech, Terry Semel said “Personally, I believe that walled gardens are a thing of the past.” But what Yahoo! is doing is in many ways constructing a different kind of walled garden, albeit, one where Yahoo! serves as the gateway to the world of Internet content. For example, Yahoo! Go Mobile will allows users to access non-Yahoo! email accounts, as long as they are POP enabled. But this has to be set up via Yahoo! Mail and in this case, through Yahoo!’s paid Mail Plus service.

To put all of these announcements in perspective, I had an interesting discussion with Cammie Dunaway, Yahoo!’s CMO. She said, “Users don’t have an emotional bond with Google. But they have one with us.” To some degree, I agree with her on this. Google has a strong brand and has built a great deal of trust and goodwill thanks to its great search experience. But I don’t have my have my life on Google – it’s actually on Yahoo!. (Disclosure: My photos are on Yahoo! and Flickr, tags are on del.icio.us, personal email (and domain) are on Yahoo!, and I use Yahoo! Local and Maps regularly.) This could change as Google and Microsoft increase and improve their services, but it will take a lot to tear me away from my established habits. Having Yahoo! now also available on my devices potentially increases that stickiness.

My colleague Josh Bernoff, who is here at CES with me, used a car analogy to illustrate this. Yahoo! is like a tricked out Lincoln Navigator – it has everything you could ever want, from the DVD player and is comfortable to boot. You practically live in that car. Google’s car representation would be the Prius, which is environmental – its users have an emotional attachment to it for a completely different reason.

So here’s my question to you, dear blog readers. Do you have an emotional attachment to Google, or any other portal/search service? To what degree can Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft, AOL, et. al. develop that bond with you? Or is it not about emotional attachments and all about utility. Would love to get your perspective, either in comments or directly via email.  

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Comments

Ricky

i don't buy into this emotional attachment. Users just want a superior product. Look at Friendster. Their product sucked so everyone jumped to Myspace.

John

I use products/services from both Yahoo and Google. I have both Yahoo mail and Gmail accounts, use blogger.com for my blog right now, and use Google Local for Mobile on my smartphone quite often.

I use to rely quite heavily on My Yahoo for news and information but have switched to Bloglines and RSS feeds. I've also RSS-enabled a lot of Google searches to help me keep track of the mobile analyst world.

Right now I'm more attached to Google, but if better products come along then I'll easily make the switch...

Ranjit Mathoda

There are attachments based on the expectations of others. You're unlikely to end such attachments, but you might duplicate them. Examples: email, your phone #, your IM account, your social network site profile (you don't want to have to notify everyone it changed, but you might add another account with different features on a different system, even though you have one already).

There are attachments based on your expectations of other's behavior, and wanting to reach a certain community. These attachments can be very strong or weak, based on how likely that community is to go to a better featured competitor, and how much you care about that community. Examples: Flickr is a great place to share and find photos but you might share them elsewhere too. EBay is a great place to sell or buy used goods and you're unlikely to go elsewhere because you want to go to the place with the most sellers or buyers. Yahoo seems to be very keyed into creating communities, although Microsoft and AOL do it also.

There are attachments based on a history of use and a happiness with the design. People tend to like reading the same newspapers they are used to. They like going back to Google because it's the first search site that satisfied their desire for good links, which was a very big annoyance before. That doesn't mean they won't switch to a different newspaper, or different search engine, if better features or designs came along, it just means that all things being equal, they are unlikely to. The challenge to any new entrant is how to tilt things so they aren't equal, and the challenge to the dominant company is to out innovate so no new player can create something significantly better.

All of these attachments can be very strong or weak for a certain customer. On the whole, I think having a community that you can't find elsewhere (eBay: because the scale is in itself a motivator to go there and NOT anywhere else) is the strongest attachment factor.

The problem with Skype being valued as highly as it was is that you can find that elsewhere (GTalk, etc). If they can extend it to enough devices, Skype might be able to reach such scale that it becomes synonymous with voice chat, and people will drop off of other services. But it seems unlikely.

Guillaume

indeed I have a STRONG, probly the stronget emotional attachment to Yahoo. I basically wish they had taken over my desktop years ago. I had already imagine this sidebar years ago and blogged about it about six months ago. All my data are stored on Yahoo. I'm also happy to see an u^pgrade to their browser.
Google ? naw... yahoo has never made a mistake anyway. ANother product that i'll love. Go Yahoo Go

EmilYang

No,Yahoo! made several mistakes,arthas(Yahoo!paydirect completely died),broadcast.....Just wish it never make mistake in the future.

ngkaboon

Google is not an emotion-binding company. They are an "Intel-inside" kind of company. For that matter, I do not even use google as my front- end search, I have forced myself to move into a9 (forced because I am doing an experiment on myself). And after a few weeks, my first impulse is to go to a9 for search. Sure, it is google working at the back, but I do not see google anymore.

As for Yahoo, they are more of a front-end company. I think above all, they are the new age media company and seems to know how to interact best with users on the internet. Their acqusitions of flickr, del.icio.us shows too.

As such, the bonding is different. I feel good knowing that google is the engine behind the front-ends. I am happy knowing that yahoo has allowed me new ways to interact with both my old-school/new-age peers on the internet.

But in reality, both companies have only skimmed the surface. Google is only search for internet for most people and Yahoo is only mail/messenger for the rest.

Google should offer more relevant services like say instruction manual searches so that I can throw away all the electronic device/gadgets instruction manuals. And Yahoo should have more interesting ways to allow me to communicate. For example, like most people, I will have a regular travel agent, insurance agent, xyz agent, etc. (of course eventually most of this would be driven by internet) and I would like to be able to use Yahoo for this kind of services.
One could imagine a mini contact list CRM type application linked to Yahoo Messenger for small businesses.


Douglass Davidoff

Ms. Li, I really appreciated this post because I find my loyalties shifting right now.

I have made much use of Yahoo!'s ancillary services, and for a long time I have used my Yahoo! mailbox to collect messages from all my other mailboxes, and then I used Eudora or Thunderbird to POP the Yahoo! box and download the messages. Complicated, but it worked for me and I like Yahoo!'s other services.

Then my 15-year-old son went to Gmail, which is the rage at his high school. The word on the street (well, in his case, the word in the hallways) is that Gmail is easy to use and has nearly unlimited storage, making it perfect for transferring files from school to home and back again. The school requires students to use webmail accounts, and apparently Gmail is the webmail of choice.

My son has been pestering me to use my invitation from him to Gmail, and this week I finally did so. I decided a few weeks ago to give up on local (hard drive) email storage. I tried Yahoo! Mail Beta -- I was one of the lucky folks who received an invitation -- and I liked it but did not love it as much as reviewers have. Most importantly, three weeks into using it, it was s-l-o-w, as in do-something-else-while-waiting slow.

So I finally tried Gmail this week and I am an instant convert. I love the conversations, the tag-like labels, and the easy-to-use filters. Now I'm setting up my Google personalized home page. I'm not a fan of the Desktop sidebar -- I don't like giving up the real estate and I use NewzCrawler to read and organize all my RSS feeds. Right now, I'm using both the Google and Yahoo! toolbars in both Internet Explorer and Firefox.

'Sorry to ramble...

The bottom line is that I'm a brand-loyal guy. I stick with Dell because it works for me, despite all the chatter about poor service. I buy multi-year service contracts and I receive great service. I've had in-office repairs on a few occasions.

I love Southwest Airlines and fly it whenever I can. I stay at the Marriott family of hotels (Fairfield Inn, Courtyard, etc.) because I get quality rooms and good service.

I patronize Starbucks because of the T-Mobile connection. I pay T-Mobile a monthly fee because their service is extraordinarily reliable and the customer telephone support is 24/7 and top notch. In fact, I'm writing this comment from a Starbucks using T-Mobile.

I understand what other commentators in this thread have said about the differences -- the "look and feel," as the automotive industry called it a decade ago -- between Google and Yahoo! But I'm liking the flexibility of Google Mail and the new non-email features of Yahoo! For instance, Yahoo 360 may be the solution to my family website problem. (Then again, TypePad's yet-to-be-introduced Comet service may be the solution.)

So I'm trending toward Google but resisting cutting off Yahoo! I think they both have benefits to offer. I'm loyal to both -- but not to AOL, MSN, Lycos, Excite, Alta Vista, Ask Jeeves, etc. I'm highly loyal to EarthLink as an ISP and domain/web host (where they excel in reliability and customer service), but I don't use EarthLink's portal, either.

I have also come to love SixApart and TypePad for their look and feel and especially their customer support. Despite TypePad's recent outages, I'm sticking with them and happily so. It'd take more than outages like those recently experienced to tear me away from a company that values its customers so highly and presents such a well-designed user interface. That said, I might one day move up to Movable Type -- perhaps on Yahoo! -- but my loyalty to SixApart will be unabated.

Well, that's one comment from a "solopreneur" here in the Heartland. I hope it helps.

Douglas Davidoff, APR
Davidoff Public Relations, Inc.
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
doug@DavidoffPR.com
www.DavidoffPR.com
BLOGS:
-- www.StraightTalkPR.com
-- www.TRIBindiana.net
-- www.NIMBYmonitor.com (to be revived after a hiatus that is way too long)

david

How do i connect my mobile phone to use the internet. please.

Titus

i am new i dont know how to connect to my mobile please guide me the way untill i get it
sir my mobile no: 9986456068

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