Yahoo has been scrambling in recent years to stay relevant and competitive while Google grows into a dominating search and social company. With the company’s paltry first quarter earnings increase, the once-powerful search engine plans to shut down or combine more than 50 Yahoo properties.
Since Yahoo has yet to release a full list of services that are headed to the graveyard, we took it upon ourselves to play grim reaper. Join us on a journey through the obscure, useless, and all-around awful Yahoo products that should get the axe.
Messenger / Chat
Yahoo Messenger is the company’s instant messaging client that was used slightly more than Windows Live Messenger, and slightly less than AOL’s AIM. With the rise of Google Chat and Skype, Yahoo Messenger became even less popular. Like the old-school AOL software, Yahoo offers its users access to hundreds of chat rooms where they can strike up conversations with strangers. Those chat rooms are still extremely active. Unfortunately, most of the activity comes from automated user accounts that ask legitimate users, like myself, questions about if I like having a good time. Of course I do.
The point being? Yahoo needs to kill off its Messenger product. Yahoo’s IM capability should be limited to Yahoo Mail.
Hey cord cutters, did you know Yahoo has its own streaming media platform to bring web content to television sets? Well, it does. It’s actually been around longer than Google TV or Apple’s ambitions to enter into the smart TV market. That might be why the platform has such a generic sounding name — Yahoo Connected TV. The company initially teamed up with Intel to provide live “widgets” on your TV in 2008, and slowly evolved it into something that resembles smart TV software. Unfortunately, Intel decided to get out of the television chip business in 2011, which has caused Connected TV to get even less attention.
Yahoo needs to take this product off life support so it can die with dignity. I can’t imagine it’s bringing in a significant amount of revenue. Also, people won’t miss it.
With all the innovative and graphical improvements Google has made to its Maps product, I fully admit to forgetting that Yahoo even had its own mapping service. I don’t really have anything negative to say about Yahoo Maps, except that it’s pretty generic and far less popular that most of the other options out there. Yahoo has already cannibalized its search engine business to Microsoft, so cross integration between search and Yahoo Maps can’t be very important anymore. And since the company doesn’t really have much of a mobile strategy, the logical course of action would be to shut down Yahoo Maps.
Events / Upcoming
When I’m looking for something to do, Yahoo isn’t the first, second or third place I think of. This is even more true of Yahoo Upcoming, which is the company’s database of live events. The site itself doesn’t even get routine maintenance — a conclusion I reached after discovering a message in the left sidebar that states “Upcoming gets a new look! December 15, 2010″ (screenshot). Spoiler Alert: Yahoo lied.
Upcoming is one of the many products that still exists in Yahoo limbo without a real purpose other than to clutter up the brand and waste resources. And although I don’t need further justification for the strong accusation, I should also point out that Yahoo’s next attempt at an events service site, Yahoo Events, is permanently stranded on Fathers day 2011. At least Upcoming’s event listings were current.
Needless to say, Yahoo doesn’t do event services very well. It’s time to kill them both.
IntoNow is a mobile social service that allows people to check-in based on whatever TV show they’re watching. IntoNow’s iOS apps can actually identify a TV show down to the exact episode just by listening to the audio for a few seconds. Once checked in, users have access to additional information about the show, as well as other fans and who else recently watched it. If you think this sounds like a cool service, you won’t get any arguments from me. The only problem with IntoNow, is that its way beyond Yahoo’s new scope for consolidating products that actually bring in revenue. IntoNow is a relatively new service that faces competition from a handful of well-established companies, like GetGlue and Miso.
If Yahoo is serious about getting back on track, it’ll fold the product. If it wants to continue dumping money into products with lots of potential (as its done for years now), then it’ll keep IntoNow active.
This tablet app grabs content from online publishers and displays it in a bland, unoriginal way. The app focuses on Yahoo branded content and even lets you connect Google Reader. But if you are already using Google Reader to manage RSS feeds, you likely don’t use Yahoo for anything and wouldn’t choose Livestand over other popular apps. In a world where Zite and Flipboard seem to dominate the tablet content-reading experience, Yahoo should back away from Livestand and spend its money else where.
Avatars is one of Yahoo’s most random services. Instead of posting a real picture of yourself in your Yahoo profile, you can create a cartoon avatar, complete with stylish clothes, fancy backgrounds, and seasonal accessories. The service is somewhat relevant now because you can export your avatar to Facebook, where it can be your profile picture. However, Avatars is so out of place for Yahoo, and it doesn’t seem to always work as promised, it’s probably not worth the dollars and time to keep it alive.
Yahoo Answers is apparently where the Internet goes to die. The service started out innocently enough as a place where people could ask questions and get answers from other Yahoo users. It’s become so pervasive that anytime you Google search a question, a Yahoo Answers hit comes up. It be a great little service if it wasn’t fill with so much spam, trolls, and people like this. Seriously Yahoo, shut down the madness.
Like Yahoo Answers, Message Boards is full of spam and trolls. It’s also ugly, messy, and tries to cover too many topics to be a valuable resource of information. There appears to be no moderation, which has caused each message board to get out of control. Yahoo either needs to take control of the boards or shut it down altogether.
4Cast is question and answer service that looks like a grown-up Yahoo Answers. Instead of open-ended questions, you ask multiple choice queries. People then “forecast” the outcome by choosing their answer. As people answer, you get a cute little pie graph. At the very least, the multiple choice responses cut down on trolls and spammy comments, but the service is just as useless as Yahoo Answers.
Could you live without these Yahoo services? Have you heard of all them? Let us know which services Yahoo should take the axe to, or which should be spared, in the comments.
Image by Tom Cheredar