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What Google Can Learn From Yahoo

by Sean P. Aune | April 7, 2010April 7, 2010 2:33 pm PDT

With Yahoo seemingly closing down service after service, you have to wonder if the company over stretched itself over the years, and that seems to be the only possible explanation for its current problems.  Perhaps it would have been better served by sticking with what worked for it and trying to make those the best services it could.  And when you start to think along those lines, you can’t but help thinking about another certain search engine company that seems to be spreading itself a bit thin as of late.

Yahoo was once the king of the Internet, and it seemed that the company could just do no wrong.  As time went on it looked for new areas it could expand into, and with each one it seemed they went further and further afield of their original intent.  They began to ignore the search portion of their business, and feeling that no one could touch them, they ignored a rapidly growing company named Google.

yahoo googleLast week Yahoo announced that it was closing its Yahoo Publisher Network which was its answer to Google AdSense, and this joins a long list of Yahoo services that have been closed.  It has tried to launch numerous services, and as you look over the list you see several failed social networks.  Remind you of anyone?

Google has had two very high profile launches as of late with Google Wave and Google Buzz, and both have met with either tepid reviews such as Wave did, or outright hatred as Buzz has done.  Meanwhile, people are beginning to say more and more nice things about Microsoft’s Bing search engine, and it all just feels a bit too familiar.  Philosopher George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” and the fact that it was Google that took the crown from an increasingly distracted Yahoo, you would have to think they might take a lesson from it.

There is nothing wrong with diversifying one’s portfolio of assets, but if you lose sight of what it is that brought you to the dance, if you sacrifice your core business to keep diversifying, and those gambles you take on new ventures don’t pay off, you’ve already lost ground.

Some critics out there say that Google is actually in the business of advertising now, and its only real concern is creating more places where it can serve ads.  When you look at projects such as the rumored Google TV, you find it somewhat difficult to argue with them.  What exactly does Google have to do with TV projects?  Isn’t that pretty far afield from anything else it has done in the past?  Why not pour those resources and development dollars into improving an existing project instead of spreading yourself even more thin?

There was a time that it felt like no one could touch Yahoo, most of all themselves.  Their stock price was sky high, they were the number one search engine and everyone thought of Yahoo when they wanted to look something up on the Web.  This remind you of anyone else we know?

Do you think Google is losing sight of its main business?  Will this fracturing of its attention cost them down the road?


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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