Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ex-Yahoos Weigh in on Their Choices for New Yahoo CEO | Kara Swisher | BoomTown | AllThingsD

"Perhaps therein lies the problem–it is still hard to define precisely what Yahoo is and is not, even for its ex-employees."

As I’ve often predicted, Yahoo and others (AOL, Facebook and Microsoft predominantly) are developing hernias trying to keep up with Google.

AOL is discontinuing XDrive (a free 5 Gig storage area) and as I had created an account there for testing I decided to now test the process for offloading your data. It doesn’t work. At all. Further investigation showed that there are forums filled with pleas for help from users of this “product” going back more than a year. OK, little known product anyway, who cares eh?

So, while I was at it, I decided to check on my 5 gig (now 25) area on Microsoft live. While they haven’t outright lost my data, the tools for unloading or even checking on it only work intermittently, time-outs, data errors, files said to have been downloaded (as JPEGs in my case) only to find the files are actually snippets of HTML (great security!). I was able to request that entire folders be downloaded as zip files, and this worked.

Finally, long ago I had “deposited” some photo laden e-mail messages to my Yahoo e-mail address just to try out the “unlimited” capacity of their latest effort. Not surprisingly (at this point) the oldest of these messages were “unreachable” leading me to wonder if Yahoo hasn’t broadcast them out into the interstellar depths for safekeeping.

All of these products are offered as free (with some restrictions) or as paid services with the restrictions at least partially lifted (I’ve read that Yahoo’s POP service doesn’t even work well if you pay for it; paying XDrive users were treated no better than the free accounts from what I could see).

So my point is that many of these new web services have turned out to be as much houses of cards as have some of Wall Street’s accounting practices.

As in that case, I’m against a bail-out. For providing services that bear little resemblance to the hype, companies should expect only one outcome, and Yahoo is the first of many to realize this outcome.

If they survive, I would definitely prescribe that they attempt no further heavy lifting.

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