Yahoo Mail To Sport A Revamped Simplified Interface

Yahoo is working on a new project codenamed Minty to revamp its webmail offering to help the company better position its offering against those offered by rivals like Microsoft and Google. Yahoo has seen a steady decline of traffic in recent times to its email service and the service has lost its top spot in several markets, including emerging ones such as India. The new project is learned to be targeted at markets where the internet connections are not top notch which would mean its regular email service will require a lot of loading time. The upcoming version of Yahoo Mail will have loading speed as one primary factor.

In addition to this, the new Yahoo Mail service is also learned to be closely aligned to the interface offered on mobile platforms like the iPad. Such an interface will unify the user interface across multiple platforms besides reducing loading speed as well as navigational convenience. The updated interface is expected to roll out within the next couple two to three months.

Yahoo To Launch A ‘YouTube For Sports’?

YouTube For Sports‘ – This is plain speculation for the moment. But something of that kind appears to be brewing at the Yahoo Labs. The company has applied for a trademark on the term “Sportstream“.

So what’s a SportStream? The application explains – “Entertainment services, namely, the provision of continuing video segments featuring sports and sports commentary”

When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. Though YouTube is the largest video sharing websites on the planet, one of the biggest monetization models that Google has unearthed is through the streaming of live sports content. Earlier this year, Google partnered with the Indian Premier League to stream live cricket content across the world.

Now, when it comes to sports content, Yahoo has the edge with close to 36 million monthly visitors to the Yahoo Sports website. A video streaming section on Yahoo Sports can take off really well. Now considering that Yahoo could do this without having to burn the bandwidth that YouTube has to on a daily basis, you will call this a pretty smart move.

Yahoo Upshot – Search-Engine Generated News Topics Website

On Tuesday, July 6, Yahoo will announce the launch of a new news section called Yahoo Upshot. This will be one of the more controversial launches from the company in recent times. The launch follows Yahoo’s acquisition of user generated articles website Associated Content earlier this year.

So why is it controversial? Yahoo Upshot is not the traditional news portal where editors come across seemingly attractive topics and write about them. Instead, a team of search engine analysts will look into several keywords that users are searching on the web and use this data to provide the Upshot team with tentative topics that may be written as articles.

Yahoo defends that this is not a manipulation of search engine traffic. Instead, the company says that the data mined from search engines offer great insights into what people are looking for and hence the editorial will be able to serve the needs of these people better.

But there is no denying that Yahoo Upshot will be associated with other companies like Demand Media who similarly mine search engine query data to determine what topics to write on. While this is not entirely a bad thing to do, critics argue that these companies make use of low paid workers to churn out articles to get on top of search engines though their articles are not necessarily the most authoritative.

The debate has been on for quite some time now. It will be interesting to see how the launch of Yahoo Upshot affects this equation.

Ad Supported Printing : HP To Partner With Yahoo Advertising

Very soon, pages you print from the internet using your web-connected HP printer may contain ads. In a pretty controversial move, Hewlett Packard has partnered with Yahoo Advertising for a pilot program that will deliver targeted ads on pages printed using their web connected printers.

HP launched the new web connected printers last week that will allow users to print content directly from the web or use their mobile phones to remotely trigger the printer to print selected pages from the web.

The value proposition for the user is not known. Traditionally, revenues advertising has been used by content creators as an alternative model for paid subscriptions. While that holds good for the traditional print or web medium, it does not however seem fit for HP’s new model. It is not clear if HP plans to subsidize the cost of the printer in exchange for ad-supported printing.

Nevertheless, this can be a controversial move and do not expect consumers to lap it up readily.

[via ComputerWorld]

Yahoo Search Engine Transition Begins – What It Means To You

Search Engine Cartels – A cartel of search engines who collectively show poor quality results to spike up their ad clicks

Yahoo is set to outsource its search engine business to Microsoft by August. Folks at SEORoundTable have noted that the company is already beginning showing the new search engine results to select users.

So, what does it mean to you, the user? If you had asked me this question a few months back, I would have remained passive. I have not really used the Yahoo search engine widely and I have been a Google user all along – like most of you.

However, things have changed since then. To be more specific, Google has changed since then. While a lot of common users may not have noticed how the search result quality on Google has gone down the drain in the past few months, those in the industry may readily agree.

Here are some “stunning”  examples

Search Query : “Search Engine

Google
1. Wikipedia
2. Bing
3. Wolfram Alpha
Bing
1. DogPile
2. AltaVista
3. Wikipedia
Yahoo
1. Search.Yahoo
2. Google
3. Bing
Best Results from Yahoo

Search Query : “Replacement Key”
Google
1. Infosys.com page for ” Key Challenges in Core Banking Replacement.cdr”
2. ReplacementKey.Kensington.com
3. Wikipedia article for Windows Key
Bing
1. Lockitt.com Replacement Keys
2. Autolok.com Replacement Keys
3. ReplacementKey.Kensington.com
Yahoo
1. ReplacementCarKeys.com
2. ReplacementKey.Kensington.com
3. ReplacementKeyFobs.com
Best results again from Yahoo

These are just two examples, but you can also try out one of these several keywords (and more as many as you can think of)
1. Jewelry Auctions
2. Car Auctions
3. Upload and share videos
4. Webmaster forums
5. Find friends
6. Music Search Engine

Google no longer shows the most accurate results in a majority of the cases. Call it a bug in the algorithm, a tweaked business strategy to get more people to click on ads or anything else. The sad fact is that Google is no longer what it used to be.

A lot of people may not have realized the low quality results on Google as yet. But they will – much in the same way as they did back in the late 1990s when they realized that there were better search engines than AskJeeves or Altavista.

However, unlike back then, we do not have a good alternative now – a sad reality a decade since then when technology is supposed to have grown much better. Microsoft’s Bing is a poor execution of whatever it was meant to be. It is neither a good decision engine nor a better search engine.

Yahoo, as you see from those results snapshot above, is still the only search engine worth its salt. And sadly, their business never grew to an extent the company may have liked and soon these more targeted search engine results will be replaced by low quality spam from Bing. And surprisingly, it will make more money as the ads still continue to be on the money.

So, coming back to the question – What will the Yahoo’s search engine transition to Bing mean to users – Well, overall low quality results on the web where all the search engines of the world will try their best to show the most untargeted results to get those extra ad clicks going.

It’s going to be an era of search engine cartel – And nobody’s going to be able to stop that.

Yahoo Messenger API To Be Released Soon

Yahoo has announced on their developers blog that the company will be releasing their Yahoo Messenger IM API shortly. This will allow developers to create a whole new range of applications and tools that will use the Yahoo service to create more value adding products.

First thought – the release is a bit too late. Yahoo’s IM service has already peaked and users have now been moving to other services like Facebook to connect. Assuming this service does get its traction, the growth can still be thwarted by Facebook choosing to release their own chat API – something that would be lapped up by developer much more aggressively considering that the social networking service is still in its prime.

Nevertheless, this does hold a lot of potential and can seemingly revive the Instant messenger service. What are your thoughts?

[via Yahoo Developer]

Yahoo Integrating All Properties Under Y.COM?

There has been a lot of debate in the past few months over the future strategy for Yahoo. There is no doubt that the company has some of the finest products in the web space that includes an email service (Yahoo mail), photo sharing service (Flickr), social bookmarking tool (Delicious) besides offering several commercial and enterprise solutions.

Y.com - Yahoo's new parent domainDespite these several services owned by the Sunnyvale based internet giant, the company has been largely seen to be banking on its content portals moving forward. Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz sees her company as a bigger version of AOL, that’s it!

In this context, a recent move by Yahoo to trademark Y.com appears interesting. In January of this year, Yahoo approached the US Patents and Trademark Office to trademark this new domain name. In the trademark description, Yahoo writes,

Creating indexes of information, sites, and other resources available on computer networks for others; searching and retrieving information, sites, and other resources available on computer networks for others; computer services, namely, providing search engines for obtaining data on a global computer network; design, creation, hosting, and maintenance of websites for others; providing temporary use of online non-downloadable software for use in designing, creating, hosting, maintaining, and operating personal web pages; hosting computer software applications of others; providing customized online web pages featuring user-defined information, which includes search engines and online web links to other websites; domain name registration services for identification of users on a global computer network; online computer mapping services; mapping services, namely, providing a website and website links to geographic information, map images, and trip routing; computer services, namely, providing spam filtering, firewall, and parental control online filtering services; providing temporary use of online non-downloadable software in the field of employment information

The description is interesting in that it describes several of Yahoo’s services like Delicious, Flickr in its umbrella of services.

So, that makes me wonder if Yahoo is planning to split their offerings into two – media consumption and tools & services. The Yahoo.com of today shall continue to serve media content while most of the other services including independent sites like Delicious and Flickr may be integrated into the new Y.com.

Alternately, I wonder if Y.com shall be the company’s new integrated parent platform where all of the existing properties shall redirect to. For instance, Flickr will point to flickr.y.com, Delicious will point to delicious.y.com and Yahoo will point to yahoo.y.com

Either ways, it will be interesting to see where things go from here.

Yahoo – FourSquare Acquisition

Rumors are doing the rounds that Yahoo is eyeing popular location based startup FourSquare. The value of the deal is rumored to be $100 million.  According to reports on the Silicon Alley Insider, a source close to Yahoo revealed that the discussions have happened though nothing can be committed since Yahoo talks “to everybody“.

True? Maybe. But VentureBeat sees conspiracy in the whole affair. The website writes that the story could have been cooked up by investment bankers hired by FourSquare in an attempt to push the valuations of the company up. VB writes,

“Foursquare’s bankers are hoping to push the four venture capital firms said to be interested — Accel Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, and Redpoint Ventures — into raising their bids from the currently rumored $80 million valuation by scaring them with the notion of a sale to Yahoo.”

Sounds logical. Where do you think the truth lies?

[via VentureBeat]

Yahoo Search Integration With Flickr Coming Soon

You may need to take this with a grain of salt, but Yahoo may be working on integrating its search results with links to other Yahoo properties like Flickr and Delicious.

An indication towards this was offered by a commenter claiming to be from Yahoo in response to another comment on TechCrunch that emphasized on the need for Yahoo to integrate its web properties.  Shreyas, the Yahoo engineer wrote

“Good point. I believe we (diff team) are working on it but will find out.”

While this may be disregarded for the simple fact that the comment is anonymous, it still makes for an interesting speculation which also makes great strategic sense for Yahoo. What do you think?

Yahoo’s New Social Advertising Technology Reeks Of Spam

Two patent applications filed by Yahoo at the USPTO describe a new technology where users of a social network could make money by referring products to friends in their network.

Firstly, it is not exactly clear where Yahoo intends to use such a technology – the patent discusses an auction marketplace scenario though it also clarifies that such a technology could be used in social networks or online photo albums.

This is how the technology will apparently work (Click to enlarge)

Yahoo Social Network AdvertisingAll said and done, this could be the closest we may come to ruining the social network experience. What’s your take?