12/01/2006 (Extracted from TheStreet.com, December 1, 2006)
While the media have been rife with praise for Yahoo! for a rare trumping of Google-- Google folded its Answers service on Wednesday as Yahoo!'s rendition flourishes -- another area where Yahoo! has a commanding lead gets less attention.
It's been eight months since Google launched its Google Finance Web site to much fanfare. With the search juggernaut's enormous resources and winning streak, many thought it would only be a matter of time before Google's service would usurp the position of Yahoo! Finance -- the most visited financial site on the Web.
But Google Finance has failed to make a dent so far. Yahoo! Finance had 13.7 million users in October, about 24 times more than Google's 579,000, according to the research firm Nielsen Net Ratings. And users also tend to spend 28 minutes on Yahoo! Finance -- nearly twice as much time as users of Google Finance.
While Google continues to extend its lead in its main search business, its setbacks are worth noting because they shed light on the company's limitations. And sometimes the technological prowess that enables the company to dominate the hugely computational search-result sector can be an impediment when it comes to other types of user experiences.
"Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote, 'In the Spring, a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love,'" the company wrote in announcing the launch of Google Finance in March. "In the spring at Google, a geek's fancy turns to thoughts of ... charts and data."
And while Google's efforts -- initially spearheaded by a team of engineers -- did produce an impressive chart for the time, it was pretty much to the neglect of everything else.
Google Finance is difficult to navigate, with chunks of haphazardly arranged data often crowding pages.
Google's efforts to integrate news events with the company's chart often mean that when you look up an individual stock, you find a cluttered, heavy graph crowded with many trivial events that have little impact on shares. Google's efforts to include blogs wholesale, meanwhile, often litter the page with musings of little relevance. Google Finance needs to draw on several other sites for its information -- including Yahoo! Finance -- and the integration is often sloppy.
All in all, Google Finance seems to be a tribute to how much financial data can be put on one page. How investors might use the site and data seems to be an afterthought.
Google's forays into arenas beyond search are especially important to examine at a time when earnings growth in its only line of business show signs of slowing. Much like its famously hyper product strategy, Google has not been shy about experimenting when it comes to new ways to generate revenue. On Tuesday, the company announced a deal with Verizon (VZ) to provide content from YouTube, the video Web site Google bought in October.
Google also recently announced it would work with some major newspapers to sell ads and is expected to make a bigger push into radio ads as well.
But while Google understands ad sales -- and can snap up top talent across fields, thanks to swelling coffers and a rising stock price -- its track record in content areas like Answers and Finance remains unproven.
That isn't to say that Yahoo Finance! should rest on its laurels. The competition will be especially intense from Time Warner's AOL Finance site which, with 10.3 million monthly users, is currently the Web's third largest. AOL also is posting impressive growth rates, adding 26% more unique investors year over year, comparable to Yahoo!'s 28%.
But AOL, which recently abandoned its subscription model to pursue only ad revenue, will be gunning for growth. And as a subsidiary of media giant Time Warner, AOL is much more content savvy than Google.
Microsoft's MSN Money -- the second-largest finance Web site, with 11.7 million unique visitors as of October -- also will likely push harder as the software giant gets increasingly serious about ad revenue.
Google, on the other hand, would do well to take a hard look at how it goes about developing its content ventures. The approach that served it well in engineering other products would appear to be the best route.
11/20/2006 (Extracted from Marketwatch, November 20, 2006)
Yahoo! on Monday announced partnerships with more than 150 daily U.S. newspapers to deliver search, graphical and classified advertising to consumers.
The arrangement will start with recruitment advertising, combining the features of Yahoo and HotJobs.com. Next up is for Yahoo! to provide search, content and local applications to all the newspapers' Web sites.
The deal is expected to help the newspapers provide a global stage for their locally focused articles, a factor that's proved very hard to do in the past. Yahoo! also intends to provide its technology to sell ads on the newspaper Web sites, offer its own local products such as event listings and Yahoo! Maps, and to distribute the news stories via Yahoo's search engine.
"We believe the local segment is largely untapped and provides significant opportunities to expand audience engagement and subsequently grow local advertising," Yahoo~ Chief Executive Terry Semel said in a statement.
The newspapers are group among six major chains, representing more than 12 million editions sold each day in 38 states. The chains are Belo Corp., Cox Newspapers Inc., Hearst Newspapers, Journal Register Company, Lee Enterprises, Incorporated, MediaNews Group, and, The E.W. Scripps Company.
Dean Singleton, head of MediaNews Group, publisher of The Denver Post and the San Jose Mercury News, called the arrangement a "transformational" deal, according to a statement.
Yahoo!'s newspaper deals, the financial terms of which were not disclosed, show how some of the biggest Internet companies are focusing more intently on working with older, more traditional media.
11/16/2006 (Extracted from Reuters, November 16, 2006)
Yahoo! on Thursday said it had acquired Bix.com, a site that helps users arrange contests to rate others' photos, video or singing, in a move to promote more popular participation across Yahoo! sites.
Bix is a 16-person company headed by Mike Speiser, who co-founded dot-com-era start-up Epinions.com, which first popularized the idea that polling user opinions could work as a tool to help individuals find personally relevant information.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Contests on Bix (http://www.bix.com) range from rating creative undertakings like karaoke, dance, photography or writing to "Hot or Not" beauty contests, where participants judge others on looks.
"Anyone can come and create a competition, both individuals or corporations," Speiser said in a phone interview. "These are user-generated contests, not just user-generated content."
Bix is one of a new crop of Web sites that encourage user self-expression, by enabling people to try their hand at making short video or audio recordings. Toward that end, it has video- and audio-recording tools that work with computers connected to a low-cost Webcam device, cameraphone or digital video camera.
Founded only in January of this year, Bix is the latest in a string of social media sites Yahoo has acquired including photo-sharing site Flickr, shared bookmarking site del.icio.us, group calendar Upcoming.org, and video editing site Jumpcut.
Popularity contests have taken off over the past year as a way for members of social network sites like News Corp.'s MySpace to identify people who share their interests.
Since Bix was formally introduced in early August, the site has attracted more than one million users, Speiser said.
Contests can be initiated by Bix members, or by corporate sponsors. In one example of its utility for advertisers, amusement part operator Six Flags asked people to submit their best impersonation of a roller-coaster scream. Details can be found at http://www.bix.com/sixflags/.
Organizers call the shots by defining the nature of a competition, setting deadlines, and selecting who participates. Winners are selected by the largest vote tally.
In coming months, users will be able to set up and run Bix contests on other sites such as MySpace or Facebook as well as various Yahoo sites, rather than having to go to the Bix site.
Speiser will join Yahoo as a vice president in charge of community-oriented sites like Yahoo Groups and Yahoo Photos.
Bradley Horowitz, Yahoo vice president of product strategy, said his company was looking at how Bix might be used in conjunction with other Yahoo sites include instant-messaging, video and other entertainment sites.