Will you ever Yahoo again?,
With Yahoo now part of the Verizon empire, Jefferson Graham takes a good look at the homepage, and finds it….rather dated. #TalkingTech
MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. – It’s been several years since I’ve Yahoo’d. How about you?
This week Yahoo, one of the oldest Internet brands, became part of the Verizon empire, one of the companies (along with HuffPost, AOL and TechCrunch) that live within the newly created Oath unit, which hopes to compete against Google and Facebook as a bulked-up alternative for online advertisers.
Good luck, Oath.
And let’s take a quick minute and look at the jewel of Oath, the beleaguered and ignored Yahoo.com. If any website sorely needed a fresh coat of paint and new outlook, it’s Yahoo.
Going to the Yahoo.com page is like going back in time to the days of MySpace and AOL, sites that were littered with gossip, celebrity news and really cheap ads for infomercial products. And what did we see on Yahoo’s front page this week? Trending stories about the late singer Whitney Houston, former pop queen Britney Spears and even country icon Dolly Parton; ads for cheap credit card and mortgage rates and cruise deals, along with articles about cute pets, Apple and Samsung smartphones and Donald Trump. (The handful of concessions to current times.)
“There’s just too much going on,” Samantha Stonich, a tourist from Florida visiting Manhattan Beach, Calif. told us this week. “I don’t use Yahoo at all. It’s outdated.” (Watch Stonich talking to us about Yahoo in this video here.)
Yahoo, which started in 1994 as a pre-Google search engine, and morphed into a “portal” for reading e-mail, keeping up on news, weather and sports, has also been the victim of some bad breaks. Beyond the corporate missteps that thwarted former CEO Marissa Mayer in her efforts to revitalize the brand, there were those two nasty e-mail breaches. Yahoo said that some 1.5 billion e-mail accounts were hacked in separate attacks in 2013 and 2014. There are more than one billion reasons to have stopped using Yahoo.
Yet Yahoo is still a top Internet destination-No. 3 in the United States, with 192 million visitors in April, according to comScore. Google is No. 1 with 241 million, and Facebook No. 2 with just over 200 million. Beyond the Yahoo front page, which is still used heavily for search, the company’s top portals include sites for e-mail (despite the breach), stocks and sports. “I love my fantasy football,” said Eric Feng, the founder of the new Unboxed.TV app, on our Thursday #TalkingTech Live episode on Facebook. “For several months a year, I’m at Yahoo all the time.”
Oath also owns AOL, which actually pre-dates Yahoo. Today’s AOL looks more modern, less cluttered and less littered with bottom of the barrel ads than Yahoo. But it’s a long ways from the intoxicating feel of the Facebook News Feed.
That basic Yahoo formula-news you cared about and tools to communicate with friends, got updated by Facebook, which turned it into a personalized social network that is now one of the most powerful Internet companies today, worth $434 billion according to…..Yahoo!
What would it take for #TalkingTech to return to Yahoo?
Throwing money at faded TV stars like Katie Couric didn’t do it. But as a news junkie, if I could get links to all the relevant content that interests me, with higher quality, personalized ads, there’s no reason I wouldn’t come back. You?
Analysts say it’s doubtful Yahoo can ever become what it once was-the dominant online home for news and communication, but stranger things have happened. Remember when Apple was left for almost dead before Steve Jobs returned, and revived the company with the iPod? Now it’s the world’s most valuable company, worth nearly $1 trillion.
And that would make anyone want to say Yahoo!
Our adventures with Yahoo – the #TalkingTech podcast. Click here to listen.
Meanwhile, in other tech news:
Uber -The ride-hailing company had quite the week. CEO Travis Kalanick announced he was taking an indefinite leave, in the wake of an internal investigation into Uber’s culture and governance that was sparked by claims of pervasive sexism and questionable corporate practices. Executive vice-president Emil Michael resigned, as did David Bonderman, a member of the Uber board of directors, who quit the board after making a sexist remark at the company’s all-hands meeting. Uber has been suffering from management woes all year, and this week it released the results of an investigation by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, whose firm Covington & Burling was engaged by Uber in February after former engineer Susan Fowler wrote a damning blog post about the company’s sexist, aggressive and biased culture.
Snap – Talk about disappearing profits. The stock of Snap, Inc., the parent company of the messaging app Snapchat, fell to its initial $17 IPO price, as investors worried about Snap’s business prospects. It’s been a rough ride for Snap, which began the year as the biggest IPO in years, had two great initial days of trading, starting at $24 a share, only to see prices fall most days since.
Google Backup– The Internet giant has a new way to keep all those files on our computers backed up, with a new automatic backup plan. The update, which will go live on June 28, will allow consumer users of Drive to back up full folders of their computer to the cloud. This means that instead of putting individual files or photos from your computer’s Desktop folder into the Google Drive folder, you can automatically have Google Drive back up the entire Desktop folder and everything within it. But consumer beware-the service isn’t free. Google offers 15 GB of free space, but additional storage will cost you, starting at $99 yearly for 1 TB of space. Most desktops come with 1 TB of space, while laptops are in the 250GB to 500 GB range, so if you do more than just send e-mail and write documents, this backup will cost considerably more than the one-time purchase of a $100 TB hard drive.
Amazon/Whole Foods – Even if you didn’t shop there, no story was bigger this week than e-tailer giant Amazon’s $13.7 billion foray into national, brick and mortar retailing, with a bid to acquire Whole Foods. The possibilities are endless. You could imagine paying for goods without going through the cash register (a concept currently being tested in Seattle), dedicated areas within the store for lounging and shopping on Amazon, home delivery as part of your Prime subscription. “Amazon brings capacities that were not in-house for Whole Foods, such as delivery,” Darren Seifer, an analyst with NPD Group told USA TODAY. “They could also add grocery pickup centers, Amazon’s ‘click and collect’ model.”
Our week in tech, in audio:
-Apple picked the 12 best apps of 2017, so far, with its Design Awards. We run down the winners.
-I didn’t take the battery warnings seriously on my Mavic Pro drone, so it decided to land on its own, far from the owner. Luckily, I got it back, as there’s an app for that.
-Ever wonder how to record an audio call to your computer? I run down the options.
-Jack Conte, the co-founder of Patreon, the platform for fans to support us on social media, tells us how we can all get rich using his tools.
-We preview the new Microsoft Surface Pro laptop.
-Our annual Father’s Day guide to recording dad’s stories on the smartphone.
Next week on #TalkingTech Live
-Monday. Wall Street Journal’s Geoffrey Fowler joins me (8 p.m. ET) to talk our favorite gadgets, online privacy, and take your questions via Facebook Live comments, or on video, via webcam or the iPhone. You can join the show here: http://smiletime.com/channel/talkingtech.
-Thursday. We’ll be live from the VidCon convention, a celebration of online video, and 25,000 screaming YouTube, Instagram and Musical.ly fans.
What you missed, in last week’s #TalkingTech newsletter.
Subscribe to our new #TalkingTech newsletter, usat.ly/2qaIVVQ and tell all your friends. Also sign up for the #TalkingTech podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Tunein and wherever else you like to hear great online audio. and follow me on Twitter, @jeffersongraham and Facebook.com/jefferson_graham.
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