Why Yahoo’s announcement today won’t get as much hype as Google’s

Google shipped a new thing last night, called Latitude. I already put it on my cell phone. It lets me tell my friends where I am. Pretty cool, right.

But today’s Yahoo announcement of Search Pad should have gotten more hype, but it won’t. As I type this at 7:35 a.m. my old boss, Vic Gundotra, who now is VP of Engineering at Google, solidly has hold of the top spot on Techmeme. Yahoo’s announcement shouldn’t threaten it. First, since you probably haven’t heard of Yahoo’s Search Pad, here’s what it does:

Let’s say you are heading to Austin for the SXSW conference next month. If you were using Yahoo’s search engine (hint: most SXSW’rs haven’t been on Yahoo in months) it would notice that you’re doing a variety of associated searches about Austin. It would save those into a new kind of notebook. Or, if it didn’t notice for some reason that you’re looking for Austin hotels, Austin BBQ, Austin restaurants, fun things to do in Austin, etc, you could start your own Search Pad and copy and paste Web pages into it.

On the surface of it Yahoo’s innovation is the kind of thing that would have early adopters like me slobbering all over myself to tell you about.

But I’m not. Here’s why:

1. When Google released Latitude last night it was available to everyone. I never even heard about Latitude from Google until the press release came into my Gmail account and when I clicked the link to try it out it all worked and I instantly told my friends on friendfeed about it and they all tried it out too and we had a big conversation about it. When Yahoo releases Search Pad today? It’s not available to everyone. Only randomly-selected people. I can’t force it on. I can’t test it. We can’t talk about it.
2. When Google released Latitude it might not have been the biggest idea, but it was aimed at a shifting paradigm: mobile phone users. Yahoo’s Search Pad? Aimed at old school web users. These people are not being forced to change their behaviors, so will be tougher to convince to try anything new. Let’s face it, if you get a new iPhone, you are going to try a TON of new things compared to the web. That’s a paradigm shift and hype comes with things that latch onto paradigm shifts.
3. When Google releases things it usually has some goodies for alpha geeks. There’s usually an API, or an advanced feature or two that only people who read Stack Overflow, Scripting News, or Life Hacker can appreciate. Yahoo’s announcement this morning? No such thing. Google’s announcement? Has tons of language that appeals to early adopters. When I interviewed Yahoo’s Tom Che, Senior Director of Product Management yesterday he admitted they were going after everyday users with Search Pad. When I asked him if I could bundle up a bunch of things in a Search Pad and forward them to Twitter, the answer was “no.” When I asked him if I could get a URL to the Search Pad, the answer was “no.” When I asked him if I could share a Search Pad with my friends, the answer was “no.” When I asked him if it would work with Google’s search engine (sorry, most of us won’t switch to Yahoo) the answer was “not really.” (You can manually enter things into a Yahoo Search Pad that you’ve found on Google, but it won’t automatically build a Search Pad for you the way it would if you were over on Yahoo’s search engine).

So, excuse me if, when you see me doing interviews today in San Francisco (I have a ton of them), I am much more excited about Google’s future than Yahoo’s future. Yahoo doesn’t get it: to get its stock price to go up and to get people like me to get excited about its future they need to care about early adopters. It’s clear they don’t care, so why should I?

90 thoughts on “Why Yahoo’s announcement today won’t get as much hype as Google’s

  1. I am based in Paris, and Google Latitude is not available today. Says Coming Soon on my iPhone, and it had no idea where I was when I used the web-based version. Tsk tsk

  2. I am based in Paris, and Google Latitude is not available today. Says Coming Soon on my iPhone, and it had no idea where I was when I used the web-based version. Tsk tsk

  3. Again Robert you miss the Android connection..even Europe Mobile Industry Pubs have noticed the Android connection..

    The Android Connection is this..what is the easiest way to convince say Verizon or AT&T Mobility to deploy Android handsets? Remember the MOS have already heard the T-Mobile results about the data plan usage climbing by 400% with Android.

    A compelling GPS consumer application.

    By the way, my Xspot Android app will be using the new Google Map features found in Google Latitude..and I am being interviewed by the Mobile Industry press about this..:)

    You see Mike Arrington last August was right about Android..

  4. Again Robert you miss the Android connection..even Europe Mobile Industry Pubs have noticed the Android connection..

    The Android Connection is this..what is the easiest way to convince say Verizon or AT&T Mobility to deploy Android handsets? Remember the MOS have already heard the T-Mobile results about the data plan usage climbing by 400% with Android.

    A compelling GPS consumer application.

    By the way, my Xspot Android app will be using the new Google Map features found in Google Latitude..and I am being interviewed by the Mobile Industry press about this..:)

    You see Mike Arrington last August was right about Android..

  5. Maybe they want do want “smoother ride, more trunk space, more leg room” and yet still a heavy horsepower Porsche. Maybe they want SPI Sledghammer bolt-on performance package styled output, 1000 hp at the crank, yet smooth, with stretch room. Just because they want extras, doesn’t mean they want to transform into a boring V8, 311 hp Volvo.

    Wanting power does not cancel out convenience. A smoother, roomier Porsche does not equal a boxy low hp Volvo.

    A Porsche designer that creates a Volvo is beyond insane, and at a certain point ceases to be a Porsche designer, and that’s where the metaphor breaks down, as you are proposing an impossibility as a possibility, and factoring the absurd as a probability. It doesn’t work.

    Let me put it another way, if I want a cooler 3D look desktop GUI for Windows, with more “leg room and trunk space” that runs smoother, that doesn’t mean I want Mac OS or KDE.

  6. Maybe they want do want “smoother ride, more trunk space, more leg room” and yet still a heavy horsepower Porsche. Maybe they want SPI Sledghammer bolt-on performance package styled output, 1000 hp at the crank, yet smooth, with stretch room. Just because they want extras, doesn’t mean they want to transform into a boring V8, 311 hp Volvo.

    Wanting power does not cancel out convenience. A smoother, roomier Porsche does not equal a boxy low hp Volvo.

    A Porsche designer that creates a Volvo is beyond insane, and at a certain point ceases to be a Porsche designer, and that’s where the metaphor breaks down, as you are proposing an impossibility as a possibility, and factoring the absurd as a probability. It doesn’t work.

    Let me put it another way, if I want a cooler 3D look desktop GUI for Windows, with more “leg room and trunk space” that runs smoother, that doesn’t mean I want Mac OS or KDE.

  7. Thanks for your post, Robert. Sorry that I didn’t answer all the questions in the way that you had hoped — we valued your feedback and will definitely consider it.

    As for why we designed it the way we did, we motivated most decisions on problems that we saw our customers having. While it’s pretty trivial to add some of the features you asked for, we decided to do less for the clarity of letting users start simple. Even the advanced detection science was created in the name of having users think less about the tool and more about the tasks are trying to accomplish.

    Thanks again for talking with us, and we would welcome hearing your thoughts on a later revision. Also appreciate your article for pointing out some different attitudes toward innovation that are out there. Our innovation is extremely customer-focused, and for whatever reason most of our customers didn’t need an API for SearchPad in version 1. :)

    Anyhow, keep up the great discussion!

    Tom Chi

  8. Thanks for your post, Robert. Sorry that I didn’t answer all the questions in the way that you had hoped — we valued your feedback and will definitely consider it.

    As for why we designed it the way we did, we motivated most decisions on problems that we saw our customers having. While it’s pretty trivial to add some of the features you asked for, we decided to do less for the clarity of letting users start simple. Even the advanced detection science was created in the name of having users think less about the tool and more about the tasks are trying to accomplish.

    Thanks again for talking with us, and we would welcome hearing your thoughts on a later revision. Also appreciate your article for pointing out some different attitudes toward innovation that are out there. Our innovation is extremely customer-focused, and for whatever reason most of our customers didn’t need an API for SearchPad in version 1. :)

    Anyhow, keep up the great discussion!

    Tom Chi

  9. Agree SearchPad should at least be available for anyone to test – much like Google Labs does for experimental search stuff.

    But reason #4 SearchPad didn’t get as much buzz is simply that our (tech blogs) readers simply don’t care as much about Yahoo stories as Google stories, unless of course it’s negative company news from Yahoo (CEO, layoffs, leaked memos, etc)

    I spent a couple hours between interview and writing about a neat new technology like SearchPad and got little interest, and it looks like that was the case on most blogs that covered it with depth. On the other hand, a quick story and analysis about Google News adding a widget (yesterday) performs great.

    My goal is to cover all that’s new and interesting – but given limited time and the choice between a Yahoo product and a Google product, I’ll write about the Google one, because it will get more interest from readers every time according to just about every metric.

    Which, gets back to your other points about Yahoo having major brand and cultural issues to overcome :-)

  10. Agree SearchPad should at least be available for anyone to test – much like Google Labs does for experimental search stuff.

    But reason #4 SearchPad didn’t get as much buzz is simply that our (tech blogs) readers simply don’t care as much about Yahoo stories as Google stories, unless of course it’s negative company news from Yahoo (CEO, layoffs, leaked memos, etc)

    I spent a couple hours between interview and writing about a neat new technology like SearchPad and got little interest, and it looks like that was the case on most blogs that covered it with depth. On the other hand, a quick story and analysis about Google News adding a widget (yesterday) performs great.

    My goal is to cover all that’s new and interesting – but given limited time and the choice between a Yahoo product and a Google product, I’ll write about the Google one, because it will get more interest from readers every time according to just about every metric.

    Which, gets back to your other points about Yahoo having major brand and cultural issues to overcome :-)

  11. Gab: I was the first blogger to interview Marcus Frind and admire him a lot. He listens to his community. Don’t believe him when he says he does not. A good designer, though, does not listen to certain kinds of feedback. I keep remembering Jim Fawcette’s words to me: ask a Porsche owner what they want and they’ll ask for things like smoother ride, more trunk space, more leg room, etc. “Well,” he told me, “they just designed a Volvo.”

    The trick is to design something your users need, not what they tell you they want. But don’t ever think that Marcus isn’t in tune with his users. That guy is brilliant and understands his users better than anyone else I’ve ever met.

  12. Gab: I was the first blogger to interview Marcus Frind and admire him a lot. He listens to his community. Don’t believe him when he says he does not. A good designer, though, does not listen to certain kinds of feedback. I keep remembering Jim Fawcette’s words to me: ask a Porsche owner what they want and they’ll ask for things like smoother ride, more trunk space, more leg room, etc. “Well,” he told me, “they just designed a Volvo.”

    The trick is to design something your users need, not what they tell you they want. But don’t ever think that Marcus isn’t in tune with his users. That guy is brilliant and understands his users better than anyone else I’ve ever met.

  13. If you saw the interview with Marcus Frind in Inc magazine, you’d perhaps get the Yahoo mindset. He made Plenty of Fish, an online dating site w/ 10M year in revenues and 3 employees besides himself. He ignores feature requests from his users, arguing that they are mostly made by a fringe and teh mainstream don’t care for this.

    I’d say those two groups map well to geek early tech adopters and the rest of the world. Yahoo may be trying to go direct to the mainstream.

    Of course, they are screwing up by introducing friction into the process as you noted so well.

    Interesting post!

  14. If you saw the interview with Marcus Frind in Inc magazine, you’d perhaps get the Yahoo mindset. He made Plenty of Fish, an online dating site w/ 10M year in revenues and 3 employees besides himself. He ignores feature requests from his users, arguing that they are mostly made by a fringe and teh mainstream don’t care for this.

    I’d say those two groups map well to geek early tech adopters and the rest of the world. Yahoo may be trying to go direct to the mainstream.

    Of course, they are screwing up by introducing friction into the process as you noted so well.

    Interesting post!

  15. “Google, solidly has hold of the top spot on Techmeme. Yahoo’s announcement shouldn’t threaten it.”

    Now a few hours later, Yahoo Search Pad does have the top spot at Techmeme. Google Latitude is four spots below it.

    Haha, but I agree with most of your criticism of Yahoo’s approach.

  16. “Google, solidly has hold of the top spot on Techmeme. Yahoo’s announcement shouldn’t threaten it.”

    Now a few hours later, Yahoo Search Pad does have the top spot at Techmeme. Google Latitude is four spots below it.

    Haha, but I agree with most of your criticism of Yahoo’s approach.

  17. I didn’t know about yahoo’s search pad… I saw the video. It looked very cool. But I am yet to try it…

  18. I didn’t know about yahoo’s search pad… I saw the video. It looked very cool. But I am yet to try it…

  19. Robert,

    Have you checked out Whhrl.com? It is a similar app to latitude from a startup in Seattle (Pelago) that has better integration with twitter and facebook.

  20. Robert,

    Have you checked out Whhrl.com? It is a similar app to latitude from a startup in Seattle (Pelago) that has better integration with twitter and facebook.

  21. Seems like Yahoo completely misses the point of product launches. At the very least let everyone have a go at it so the news can spread virally. An internet maketer worth his salt knows how to do this. It is not like Yahoo has not been around long enough to know how to handle things. I am very suprised as thsi amateurish way they are behaving.

  22. Seems like Yahoo completely misses the point of product launches. At the very least let everyone have a go at it so the news can spread virally. An internet maketer worth his salt knows how to do this. It is not like Yahoo has not been around long enough to know how to handle things. I am very suprised as thsi amateurish way they are behaving.

  23. Thanks for the information about Latitude Robert – it is one of those leaps as you say above. I hope people “get it” because the potential is huge. Huge.

  24. Thanks for the information about Latitude Robert – it is one of those leaps as you say above. I hope people “get it” because the potential is huge. Huge.

  25. It seems like execution is an issue.

    - Google moves fast and gets it right, often.
    - Yahoo moves slowly, and gets it wrong.
    - Microsoft evolves.

    Check out the photo profile for the honorable Mr. Scoble. Note the photo search using Google, Yahoo, Live, and FlickR. Google gets it right, most of the time.

    BTW, Media Life is compiling the top 1000 personalities, just for fun. We could use some help with name suggestions.

  26. It seems like execution is an issue.

    - Google moves fast and gets it right, often.
    - Yahoo moves slowly, and gets it wrong.
    - Microsoft evolves.

    Check out the photo profile for the honorable Mr. Scoble. Note the photo search using Google, Yahoo, Live, and FlickR. Google gets it right, most of the time.

    BTW, Media Life is compiling the top 1000 personalities, just for fun. We could use some help with name suggestions.

  27. “Yahoo doesn’t get it: to get its stock price to go up and to get people like me to get excited about its future they need to care about early adopters. It’s clear they don’t care, so why should I?”

    Wow, someone sounds a little sore because some company didn’t give the Almighty Scoble a gift bag for the new launch. Someone needs a little bit of pampering eh?

    Scoble = Arrington?

    The world doesn’t revolve around early adopters and it certainly doesn’t revolve around you Scoble. You and your FriendFeed can Like all the stories you want.

  28. “Yahoo doesn’t get it: to get its stock price to go up and to get people like me to get excited about its future they need to care about early adopters. It’s clear they don’t care, so why should I?”

    Wow, someone sounds a little sore because some company didn’t give the Almighty Scoble a gift bag for the new launch. Someone needs a little bit of pampering eh?

    Scoble = Arrington?

    The world doesn’t revolve around early adopters and it certainly doesn’t revolve around you Scoble. You and your FriendFeed can Like all the stories you want.

  29. I just checked out the Yahoo! ‘sneak peek’ video for Search Pad. It looks pretty good to me, and I could certainly see uses. Maybe the ‘availability’ of the launch isn’t terribly savvy, but I think the “don’t care” comment is maybe just a tad harsh? This looks pretty reasonable, so let’s not be too quick to kill it off. As for Latitude, I don’t think it should scare anyone. It’s an opt-in service, and it tracks the phone not the person (i.e. I don’t see Latitude location being viable for alibis).

  30. I just checked out the Yahoo! ‘sneak peek’ video for Search Pad. It looks pretty good to me, and I could certainly see uses. Maybe the ‘availability’ of the launch isn’t terribly savvy, but I think the “don’t care” comment is maybe just a tad harsh? This looks pretty reasonable, so let’s not be too quick to kill it off. As for Latitude, I don’t think it should scare anyone. It’s an opt-in service, and it tracks the phone not the person (i.e. I don’t see Latitude location being viable for alibis).

  31. I’m surprised at your obvious bias in this post comparing Google’s Latitude with Yahoo’s Search Pad. Looking at both products from an unbiased user perspective, I completely disagree with your assessment. Yahoo’s Search Pad is an extremely innovative and useful application that will certainly save time and improve the search engine experience. I believe an application like Search Pad will help Yahoo attract new users from Google.

    No, I do not work for Yahoo. In fact, I primarily use Google for my searches, but the Search Pad could persuade me to switch to Yahoo.

    I’m sorry Yahoo didn’t give you the answers you were looking for, but from an application standpoint I your buddy at Google is slapping his forehead saying, “Darn, I wish I had thought of that.”

  32. I’m surprised at your obvious bias in this post comparing Google’s Latitude with Yahoo’s Search Pad. Looking at both products from an unbiased user perspective, I completely disagree with your assessment. Yahoo’s Search Pad is an extremely innovative and useful application that will certainly save time and improve the search engine experience. I believe an application like Search Pad will help Yahoo attract new users from Google.

    No, I do not work for Yahoo. In fact, I primarily use Google for my searches, but the Search Pad could persuade me to switch to Yahoo.

    I’m sorry Yahoo didn’t give you the answers you were looking for, but from an application standpoint I your buddy at Google is slapping his forehead saying, “Darn, I wish I had thought of that.”

  33. There is a reason Yahoo! has to change their CEOs every 2 months and Google getting close to world domination. You are right. Yahoo! does not get it.

  34. Clearly, a case of one tech company that’s clearly lost touch with what matters, and who their target audience should be… That and the fact that they’re probably just too old and mature to be doing “selective” beta’s at this point, straight after Googles big announcement.. It’s like releasing two top records in the same week. The one that’s already popular will no doubt stay on top ;)

  35. There is a reason Yahoo! has to change their CEOs every 2 months and Google getting close to world domination. You are right. Yahoo! does not get it.

  36. Clearly, a case of one tech company that’s clearly lost touch with what matters, and who their target audience should be… That and the fact that they’re probably just too old and mature to be doing “selective” beta’s at this point, straight after Googles big announcement.. It’s like releasing two top records in the same week. The one that’s already popular will no doubt stay on top ;)

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