February 1, 2006

Who wants to be “#1”, anyway?

Posted in Community, Search, Software at 9:01 pm by mj

Jeremy on why Yahoo says it isn’t trying to be #1. Excellent follow-up from an admittedly interested party.

When the story originally broke, my response was to shrug it off. Yahoo’s acquisitions and newer experiments demonstrate that it’s headed in a different direction than Google, a direction in which Search-As-A-Textbook is less important than search as a platform, or, to put it another way, search as an anchor for community.

Google, on the other hand, appears to be stranded on its own island shouting “We’re #1” and hanging AdSense banners on all the palm trees. A profitable business, to be sure, and one which nobody thought possible five years ago. But just because something wasn’t possible five years ago, doesn’t mean it’s wise to linger on it for an extended period.

Anyway, as long as Google gets to define the rules of the game and the meaning of success, nobody’s going to beat them. So what is a success-minded company to do? Stop following Google.

Which, I believe, is exactly Jeremy’s point. And he should know.

Update (9:09p): I was a little harsh on Google. Part of the reason I think they’re stuck as far as search innovation goes is because they’re so far behind Yahoo (and even Microsoft) in the community space. That’s why they’ve been pushing like crazy on Toolbar, Reader, Mail, and so on. As the BusinessWeek article by Marissa Ann Mayer (warning: ads may overlap text in Firefox) shows, Google does fundamentally understand how to harness creativity and foster innovation. They’re just against a wall in the search arena at this point.

As always, just my opinion.

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