Yahoo: Hey, look, we can be infinite and social too

Fresh, mobile-friendly face or lipstick on an aging pig? The jury's out on CEO Marissa Mayer's Yahoo home page redesign

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What does the rest of the world think about the new design? Depends on who you ask, naturally. Huffington Post's Craig Kanalley gives it two big thumbs-up:

The killer feature of the new Yahoo homepage is the news feed. I've already found it addicting; I found myself checking back several times yesterday at work -- and after work when I got home -- to see the latest news it highlights. Presumably based on my Facebook likes and interests, it indeed served up news I wanted to read, consistently....

For me, it worked. Instantly. That simple. It didn't require any work on my end, like many personalization services do, and I appreciate that.

On the other hand, GigaOm's Mathew Ingram says it's a fresh coat of paint on a rusted, old bucket:

Mayer is right that streams have become the paradigm of choice, but that particular boat set sail a long time ago -- Facebook first introduced the News Feed, which has become the go-to news and information source for hundreds of millions of people, in 2006....

It's true that Yahoo still has hundreds of millions of loyal users, but then so does AOL's dial-up business -- in other words, there may still be value there, but it is in a process of gradual (and likely accelerating) decline.

Comparing Yahoo to AOL's AARP-focused dial-up business? Oh, that's gonna leave a mark.

The problem Yahoo is facing, says Quartz writer Chris Mims, isn't that people don't care about Yahoo. It's that they don't care about home pages any more. Deep links are the end-all and be-all these days.

Like other titans of another tech age, Yahoo is facing an existential threat against which it may be defenseless: People just don't surf the web the way they used to. It is now the rule, rather than the exception, to share links over Facebook, Twitter and "dark social" (e.g., email or text messages), which means that most people are arriving on pages buried deep within websites, and may never go near the homepage.

Can Mayer restore Yahoo to whatever luster it might once have had? A few tweaks to the home page aren't going to do it, but she says that's only the beginning.

Then again, look at Microsoft. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released this week noted that 50 percent of digital hipsters between the ages of 18 and 29 think Microsoft is "cooler than it was" a year or two ago, beating Twitter (47 percent) and Facebook (42 percent).

Of course, given how relentlessly uncool Microsoft has been throughout most of its 38-year existence, it was not a high bar to surpass -- just slightly above one of those wheelchair curbs. But the fact that it's reaching the young 'uns has to take some of the sting out of its sub-3 percent mobile market share.

Back in the Web 1.0 days, Yahoo was so cool it had to wear shades. Maybe it could happen again. Stranger things have happened.

Do you still Yahoo? And if so, why? Yodel your thoughts below or email me:

This article, "Yahoo: Hey, look, we can be infinite and social too," was originally published at Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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