Yahoo Starts Rolling Out its New Web and Mobile Homepage to the Arab World …The New Homepage Has Branding Implications
Yahoo rolled out a preview of its new homepage in U.S. 10 days ago and said will start rolling out to other market this month. Thought it seems the new homepage has already arrived to the Arab world. I spotted the page today on my PC, then asked my friends in Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Algeria to confirm, they all confirmed getting the new homepage preview some saying they had it for a week, others since the past few days, but one friend in Egypt said he did not spot it yet!. (if you live in the Arab world with no access to it, please let us know via a comment.)
Yahoo’s newpage is essentially a simplified mixture of a startpage like Netvibes and iGoogle. It brings together external Web site with Yahoo!’s own websites and channel in a single destination across both PC and mobile screens. (Yahoo’s Mobile homepage is up and running on my mobile- more shots on Flickr here.)
New features of the Yahoo! homepage include:
- My Favorites: People can choose from a dashboard of more than 65 apps to add directly to their homepage, including different email providers (AOL(R), Gmail(R), Yahoo! Mail), Yaho’s selected content sites (Barron’s(R), NPR(R), omg!, USA Today), popular social networking sites (Facebook(R) and MySpace(R)), and others.
- App Maker where you can add any website url, and Yahoo fetches its update automatically, it is not clear whether Yahoo looks for the site’s feed and add itself or if it is using another technical method, and there is no editing or a way to delete the added apps.
- PC to Mobile Sync Whatever new apps you add on your computer stay with you when you are mobile.
- Social Updates integration with Facebook and MySpace.
Yahoo’s new homepage is big step by Yahoo, but it would not be appealing to the web savvy users because they can get it all done in a better way on startpages like Netvibes and iGoogle or RSS readers like Google Reader.
However for the average person like my mom, this redesign makes it easier for them to keep track of their favorite sites without opening too many Tabs.
Yahoo has around 500 million visits per month, in the Arab world its webmail and instant messenger seems to be the most popular among users in the region.
Yahoo search is dead with Bing, Did Yahoo dig its grave?
Do you remember back in the 90s when we all started web browsing, Yahoo’s homepage was just a directory listing that later turned on into a portal. Taking the users focus off the search functionality into different Yahoo’s network channels specially its news channel. This had implications on the branding of Yahoo, after a while people did not look at it as a search engine. In contrast Google maintained its homepage with a simple search bar thus reinforcing its brand name as a search engine, in which the term Googleit equals search it.
Google built its business and success off Yahoo’s lack of vision: Yahoo outsourced its search to Google – a startup back then- with a small tag (powered by Google) which essentially drove people away from Yahoo to Google.
Then Google came with Adwords and figured how to monetize search engine traffic big-time with contextual ads, a multibillion business that allowed Google to control most of advertising online. (market cap: yahoo $19.99 Billion Google $140 billion, net income: 830,000 Google $4.343 Billion- Source: WolframAlpha.)
Both Yahoo and Microsoft realized the importance of search and contextual ads, Microsoft tried it with its Live brand and failed, while Yahoo did its own search and failed essentially for two reasons:
- Yahoo’s brand was not positioned as a search engine, because its homepage is full of content and ads from other Yahoo’s channels.
- Yahoo’s search technology did not at least meet Google’s search algorithm.
Unlike Yahoo, Microsoft learned its lessons, it figured out how to make its search smart by buying two innovative search startups: Powerset and Farecast , added its own code to them and Launched its search engine under a new name “Bing” with $100 million USD in advertising money. Bing’s homepage is essentially what google’s homepage, a streamed line search bar, the focus is on the search bar, but with some eye catching images probably to make a difference than the very simple white background of Google.
Trying to catch up with Google, Yahoo tried to position itself as technology company like Google, but with its new CEO, Carol Bartz, decided a new strategy and focus on content, so it would be the best in Finance the best in cars, the best in images, etc. And now it killed it search engine forever with this Bing deal with Microsoft and probably its other open search innovation SearchMonkey and BOSS . Which will mean a repeat of its history with Google , but this time driving traffic not just to Bing but other MSN properties that competes with Yahoo’s new focused products.
Yahoo does not need to be bought by Microsoft nor it needs to let Bing power its search, Yahoo needs an intrepreneurial culture, it needs to offer intensive to its thousand of smart employees to come up with new Ideas that have potential to be game changers like Google’s Wave or Google Gmail. From a basic web app built on PHP to sophisticated apps built on C++. Not to mention to take the companies they acquire into the next level, instead of killing them or freeze them with nothing new like mybloglog.
Going back to the brand implications of Yahoo’s new homepage: as brand specialists say a brand is defined by the customers experience, I think Yahoo’s new homepage is trying to rebrand Yahoo as a startpage for the web.