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the Architxt's Journal

06 Oct '11 | New Media Thoughts

Will Yahoo! ever build deeply personal digital experiences?

This is their latest mission statement, following the ousting of Carol Bartz and years of non-innovation.

I used to be a Yahoo! fanboy even after switching to Gmail and Skype, and I still like the company very much — they were there at the start and I will always associate the Yahoo! brand with many positive online experiences.

A feeling of nostalgia more than anything else. My perception of Yahoo! now is equivalent of walking into a hotel that was luxurious back in 1987 but hasn’t been renovated since. There are a few new flat panel screens no the wall and it’s all nice and clean. But they will never be able to get rid of that subtle smell of innovationlessness.

Back in 2009 they announced “a major milestone in the Yahoo! Open Strategy” – a new homepage. Big deal. The revamped Yahoo! Mail is slick but nothing new – just bearly catching up on Gmail.

In the meantime the likes of Facebook, Google and thousands of other start-ups have come up with society-defining products. User interface design has evolved a thousand times over.

So what now? With Carol Bratz, the architect of non-delivery, now gone one would think that that Yahoo! would tuck in its shirt and find a real focus. Instead, their mission statement remains fluffy: to build deeply personal digital experiences

What does this actually mean? What are they going to offer? The risk here is that the Yahoo! brand will join Excite and Lycos in the history ebooks.

I think that there is hope if they re-invent themselves as something 10,000% different. Something of great courage. Here is an idea for a mission statement:

Reclaim your you-time

Yahoo! should position themselves as an alternative to the fast paced nature of online by offering tools and experiences for people who:

  1. Don’t want to communicate 140 characters per second
  2. Want their privacy respected
  3. Don’t want their personal information traded
  4. Don’t want to be exposed by the ‘bad stuff’ online: porn, gambling, stalkers, etc..
  5. Don’t want to spend their life in front of a screen or attached to a device
  6. Don’t want to share the fine details of their daily routine with friends and family

How about that, Yahoo!?

As commercially unsound and brandingly confusing this may be it has more meaning than your latest statement.