Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Is Yahoo! Irrelevant?

Yahoo! Mail: Yahoo's email interface remains a generally awful experience. Even their new "Yahoo! Mail Beta" is bloated with useless features. On top of that, if you have the sound on, the inbox constantly refreshes itself, making hundreds of "click" sounds every minute. Round that out with Yahoo!'s stingy policy of not providing outgoing-POP3 access, and you've got yourself a crippled email client.

Yahoo! Groups: This is a mistake made years ago by most student groups, and they are still dealing with it. As a way of organizing and scheduling with teams, Yahoo! Groups is atrocious. Not only does it force you to get a Yahoo! user name and password, it makes it very difficult to later change your user name and password. And inexplicably, tor the last two years, there have been random delays in posting and delivering messages. At times it still takes between 10 minutes and 4 hours to get your message to actually post on the group page. And with individual email accounts hovering around 2GB of storage, why limit Yahoo! Groups to a minuscule 20MB?

Yahoo! Homepage: It's search, stupid! This is so cluttered that I plain forgot that it was supposed to be search engine. There is just so much going on at once here. Do I really need a separate animated button with my horoscope on it? There are at least five or six separate sections on this page, each of which are divided into sub-sections with tabs. The only other major website that's more poorly designed is, which is downright awful.

Signing In: Yahoo! still doesn't understand that in this day and age, people share computers and, moreover, some people just might have more than one Yahoo! account. So why does Yahoo! make it such a pain in the ass to sign in and sing out? If I want to switch screen names, I need to navigate through three different pages just to get to the standard login page. Even worse, Yahoo! ties all of its services together so that you can't use two of their services at the same time with two different accounts on the same computer. For example, let's say my brother is using my computer and signs in to check his email on my computer. And let's say at the time I'm listening to music through the Yahoo! Music Jukebox, which is a paid service. Well, as soon as I sign in to the jukebox using my user name and password, my browser will kick my brother out of his email inbox and replace it with MY inbox. The same crap happens with you sign into anything Yahoo! related. What a debacle.

Yahoo! Finance: Perhaps the most useful feature since Yahoo! struck it big. But amazingly, apart from quotes that update in semi-realtime, there has been almost zero innovation that has gone into this service. It is still slow and difficult to setup.

Put simply, the question is this: what does Yahoo! offer anymore? Is it irrelevant?


Anonymous said...

As a former employee, I have pages to say about it. Have you read Brad Garlinghouse's Peanut Butter memo? It gets to a lot of this.

Yahoo! finance launched a redesign last week - check it out.

Y! Mail, even with the beta, is pretty difficult to use, especially here at Boalt where wifi is spotty. I cant tell you how many times I've lost full emails after typing them. Annoying.

Groups is in the middle of a redesign, not sure if they're upping the quota . . .

do you use my yahoo? i use it as a blog reader . . .

A.H. Rajani said...


i've only been able to find stories about the memo, has anybody published the memo itself? if you know of any links, please post them.

i checked out yahoo finance and i have to admit that over the last week, i haven't really noticed any differences except that the tabs at the top have a new style. same old crap, new diaper.

i cannot agree more about the mail beta; i've lost a few emails there too (it's also why i hate Google's Blogger interface for typing blog posts, i've lost quite a few posts that way).

in terms of blog/rss readers, i actually use the pretty decent RSS reader that comes built into Outlook 2007. it gets the job done and is integrated in an application i have open all the time anyway.

Anonymous said...

techcrunch has it - let me know if you cant find it.

A.H. Rajani said...

Found it: here's the link if anybody is interested:

A.H. Rajani said...

The best line of that memo:

"I’ve heard our strategy described as spreading peanut butter across the myriad opportunities that continue to evolve in the online world. The result: a thin layer of investment spread across everything we do and thus we focus on nothing in particular. / I hate peanut butter. We all should."

I think Garlinghouse's memo is right on the money, though it seems like the problems that company is facing seem like the same problems any large company (like Microsoft) faces from time to time.

His memo made a great point that I've always thought about, the fact that yahoo's own services compete with each other!

TechCrunch seems pretty cool too, I haven't been to that blog until now.