Sunday, March 27, 2005

Huh - maybe Yahoo not so evil after all

Item: Yahoo starts special section of their search engine this week, just for work published under a Creative Commons license. (See this post by Lawrence Lessig, founder of Creative Commons, for more.)

Item: Yahoo invites bloggers to their physical campus this week to test out Yahoo 360, their soon-to-be-released social networking tool. Plus they forgo a non-disclosure agreement, meaning that the bloggers are free to write about the experience at their blogs. (See this post by Danah Boyd for more.)

Item: Yahoo overhauls their mobile interface this week, making it much more useful than it was before.

Item: Yahoo quadruples the amount of memory available for email accounts this week, bringing them fully up to Gmail competitive standards (one gigabyte, in other words).

Item: Yahoo announces this week that they're seeking to buy back up to 7 percent of their stock from outside investors.

I admit, when I first heard that Yahoo had bought, a favorite site of mine, my heart sank like a stone. "Great," I thought, "yet one more cool website out there that's going to be virtually useless come a year from now, after a major corporation gets done screwing around with it." All these changes at Yahoo this week, however, makes me think that maybe they've actually learned something that Microsoft still hasn't; namely, that Google is a much bigger threat to both of them than either has really wanted to admit up to this point. More specifically, it seems that Google has been a welcome wake-up call for Yahoo, and has made them realize that they need to get back more on the stick, when it comes to simple customer happiness. It makes me feel a little more optimstic about Flickr now, and the hope that Yahoo won't completely screw up everything that made Flickr cool to begin with. (Granted, they will screw about half of it up - they are Yahoo, after all.)