Can you imagine the glee at Yahoo back in February when Google triumphantly released its 350-pound gorilla, Edsel-inspired Google Buzz? It must have been palpable. Is it surprising then that Yahoo has rolled out its very own version of Google Buzz? Not really.
For those of you who have not thought about ole Yahoo in a while, you may not even know that Yahoo has a social networking service called Yahoo Updates. The service allows users to post status updates, photos, and other content by integrating it directly into Yahoo Mail. So what, you say? The “so” is that Yahoo Mail still boasts some 280 million users, so if the company can create a social network around that, it would be an instant player against Facebook, a global force at nearly 500 million users, and Twitter, at 75 million.
For their part, Yahoo has been studying the many, many – ok, many – mistakes made by Google Buzz. It is worth nothing that they are already doing one thing that Google neglected to do. Yahoo is slowly phasing Updates functionality to its various products—Yahoo Messenger, Yahoo Profiles—and studying how users respond. This is significant for two reasons. First, Google did not do this with Buzz, but has been typically known to phase in its other products and services. So, when Google Buzz just sort of appeared, it shocked many Google users, myself included.
Second, by allowing a phased-in look at how users respond, Yahoo will, theoretically, have an opportunity to correct and contain glitches and misguided features that Google spent weeks mopping up when it released Google Buzz whole-hog on an unwitting population. In particular, Yahoo appears intent on avoiding the situation where some users’ lists of frequently e-mailed contacts to go public. From an attorney’s perspective, this was, perhaps, my single, greatest problem with Google Buzz in its initial release. In many instances, my clients’ identities – if not privileged – may well be squarely in the “confidential” category. Most attorneys, for ethical or straight-up business reasons, don’t want their clients’ identities being known to other clients and certainly not the world at large.
For my part, I am glad to see Yahoo fighting back for its share of the Internet pie. Yahoo has made its own share of mis-steps in the past, no doubt about that, but Google needs competition to keep its own operations lean and mean. What do you think?
Read more about these developments here.