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.