I've been getting this question a lot lately: how could you have chosen to go to Yahoo! over going to Google? Google is clearly the place to be, they have the best of everything, the coolest stuff online, and the Googleplex! (I'm paraphrasing here.) I've even heard people call Yahoo a dying company and pointing out how Google is so much better. Both are great companies, let me say...getting offers from both was like being asked about by two incredible women and needing to choose just one. But here are some of the things Yahoo! has going for it:
- Yahoo! Finance is the #1 finance site on the web (Google Finance is currently #40).
- Yahoo! News is the #1 news site on the web (Google News is #2).
- Yahoo! Mail gets four times the traffic of GMail.
Google may be changing the way people are searching and coming out with some really cool stuff, but don't sleep on Yahoo!
As while back I wrote about how Microsoft doesn't innovate, they simple wait for someone to define a market, then ramp up and take over. It happened to Apple, Netscape, and Real, and now the target is Google. Most people think that there's nothing to stop the Google juggernaut; I disagree, and it's already beginning.
To begin with, Internet Explorer 7 comes with a search bar that, by default, uses Windows Live Search. Naturally, Google is upset about this and is trying to make the courts stop Microsoft. On the one hand, I'm not a Microsoft proponent, but on the other hand, it's their browser and they can do whatever they want. Google has been sitting pretty with built-in searches in both Firefox and Safari, but neither group necessarily needed to do that nor asked Google for permission. They were designing for the users. So is Microsoft, who naturally thinks their solution is better than anyone elses (otherwise, they wouldn't have built it). I think Google is going to lose this round.
Next up, Amazon has decided to dump Google on both its Alexa toolbar and on A9. Both will now use the Windows Live Search service in place of Google. Some may say I'm saying the sky is falling, but Microsoft often makes small moves before taking over. In my opinion, Google needs to go on the offensive now if they want to remain dominant. Remember the famous words that signified the beginning of the end for Netscape: the Microsoft browser will be free. It all went downhill from there.
Google has a history of putting up April Fool's jokes online. With April Fool's Day being on a Saturday this year, this one probably went a bit unnoticed: Google Romance. I have to give the folks at Google props, it's just probable enough (giving Yahoo!'s and AOL's personals), but just goofy enough. I especially like the error message you get when trying to search. Go on, give it a try.
It seems like everytime you blink these days, Google is either creating or acquiring another Ajax web application. This time, they have bought Writely. Writely has gained wide acclaim as an amazing Web 2.0 tool that shows just how what can be done using web technologies. The fact that it will now have Google's resources and backing means that the sky is the limit for this young application.
One really has to wonder: where is Microsoft in all of this? When have they made an acquisition that improved their web presence?
Seems like everyone and their uncle has opinion on Google Print, Google's plan to index massive libraries of books and make them searchable through the Internet for free. As a published author, I feel like I can speak with some sort of purpose towards this issue.
First and foremost, let's review what has people so up in arms. It's copyright law, plain and simple. The publishers don't like the idea of someone giving everyone access to their books' contents (simplifying a bit, but this is their basic argument). They say that it violates their copyright on books and Google has no right to do it. Further, they state that Google will be making money off of this search while they will not, and that makes them angry. They say that Google is effectively copying their works without permission and using it for profit. I think this is a stretch.
I'll probably incur the wrath of writers and publishers everywhere for saying this, but I think Google is in the right here. Are they being overly arrogant about it? Yes. Should they have discussed their plans with publishers before they started? Yes. Is what they're doing illegal or in violation of copyright law? I don't think so. Here's my rationale.
Copyright law is intended to protect the copyright holder from someone else copying and either giving away or selling their intellectual property thus affecting sales of the original. I can't photocopy a Harry Potter book and resell it; that would be copyright infringement. The publishers' main complaint seems to be that Google is copying an entire book without permission. The difference is that Google isn't giving away the book or selling its contents, it's indexing them so that others may search through books. You cannot print out a copy of the entire book through Google Print, which may actually entice you to buy the book outright.
There's even mention in copyright law about how it is legal for a library or archive to make one copy of a work so long as it is freely available to the public and not for sale. One could argue that Google Print falls under this exclusion.
The other argument from the publishers is that Google will be making money off of this but the publishers will not. Arguably, the publishers will because people will know that their book contains information they need, and therefore they must buy it. And why shouldn't Google make some money off of it? They've spent countless man hours, written software, and set up servers to handle all the traffic they will get. Don't they at least deserve to make some money for the service they're providing?
Overall, I think that the publishers are mostly upset that they didn't think of the idea first. I'm sure both sides can see the benefit of working with the other, as this could turn out to be a hugely useful research tool for people and a very successful marketing program for publishers. I mean, no more using that crappy search engine that most libraries across the country have? Sounds like a bright future to me.
As I'm sitting here, trying to do research for a project, Google just isn't coming up. I don't know what the problem is, but it's not at my end. And suddenly my perspective changed. That little box in the corner of my Firefox is now useless...my home page, also useless. I found myself thinking back to a time before Google...how would I have found stuff on the Web back then?
So I ended up going back to Yahoo! It was weird, sort of like running into an ex-girlfriend after leaving your current girlfriend's house. How much should you say? You need to be careful not give the wrong signals because you know somehow your girlfriend would find out if you did and make your life hell.
But yet everytime I do my initial search and look at the first result, my instinct is to type further search terms into the Google box on Firefox. Damn, it still doesn't work. I guess I'll head over to Yahoo! again. Oh wait, I can change the search box to use Yahoo!...hmmmmmm. Maybe this isn't the end of the world, maybe I will be able to still find things on the Internet. It'll take a little while to get used to the change, but maybe there is still a spark there that could bloom into something real.
I'm sorry for all the mean things I ever said about you, Yahoo!. You said some thing, I said some things, and Google was just so much sexier at the time. But now, well, now I've come to appreciate you more. No, I promise it's not just because Google disappeared...