Why Yahoo and Google Still Don't Get It

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Nat Torkington
Sep. 07, 2004 11:37 PM
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Today I found out about Picasa, which Google acquired. It's an image archive/management package. And I found out about Farechase, which Yahoo acquired. It's like shopper.com for airfares, or something. I don't really know what they do, because I can't use them--they both require Windows. I know there are smart people at Google and Yahoo, but they obviously had no say in this. How will you get influencers to praise your product if they can't run it?

I see the world working like this: Tech reporters and widely-read people like Tim watch alpha geeks to figure out what's new and important. The general public learn from their alpha geeks and from tech reporters. So if you (generic firm) can't get the alpha geeks talking about your product, you face an uphill battle to get the general public aware of it and using it.

A disproportionately large number of alpha geeks and influencers use Mac OS X: James, Om, Rael, Tim, Randal, Cory, Mark, Ben, Jesse, Ask, Chris, Jeremy, .... Sure, not every alpha geek uses OS X, but can Yahoogle really afford to ignore the people to whom their target market turn to for advice?

So what should Yahoogle be doing? Not porting to the Mac, porting is hell. Take a lesson from Flickr. This is web gallery done right: HTML and Flash interfaces, web service as much as web server, aggressively multi-platform.

Flickr gets that the future of interaction lies further and further away from Microsoft Windows, whether in other desktop operating systems or handhelds or TVs or ... Should you only be able to find good fares when you're sitting at your home computer? Look at the popularity of webmail--people want their mail regardless of which computer they're sitting at. Digital photos are just as integral a part of people's lives. Flickr agggressively embraces this decentralized world, and that's why people are talking about it. And that's why nobody I pay attention to but John has blogged the two new dis-services from Yahoo and Google.

--Nat

Nat Torkington is conference planner for the Open Source Convention, OSCON Europe, and other O'Reilly conferences. He was project manager for Perl 6, is on the board of The Perl Foundation, and is a frequent speaker on open source topics. He cowrote the bestselling Perl Cookbook.