Blog Post

Tis A Season To Copy

Just came back from the best Starbucks on the planet – the one outside 50 California Street. They are all decked out already with holiday trimmings, and that put me in a jolly mood. Hence the headline! With enough caffeine pumping, let me take a gander at one of the most provacative headlines of the day. Jeremy Zawodny riffing on a comparative matrix built by Tristan Louis says, Google is Building Yahoo 2.0.

I dearly wish Google had a blogger in their ranks worth his sarcasm, but since they don’t, I am going to self-appoint myself in the role of agent provocateur. First, if something is version 2.0, it means it is decidedly better. Well, tactical admission? But more importantly, why isn’t Yahoo building Yahoo 2.0? Regardless, J-Zee might want to look around before calling the “pot black.”

GMail, was followed by increase in Yahoo Mail quota. Yahoo IM got voice, perhaps inspired by Skype. Yahoo Maps? Shall we go on? The point is that there are three competitors in this space – Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft. All they are doing is crazily copy each other and offer the same offerings. These might be inspired by the other two, some start-up, or just simply a home grown idea. Nevertheless, unlike Yahoo and Microsoft, Google has no legacy to hold on to, and they can be crazy enough to throw everything at the wall, and hope something sticks. GMail is a good example. Froogle is not.

Amazingly, none of the companies talk about the uptake of their new services. Have Yahoo IM downloads increased because of VoIP? Same goes for Google too… how many Google Talk users? Nothing to write home about, I can bet you. At the end of the day, these new fangled features are not the reason people use the three networks. People go to Google for search, Yahoo for MyYahoo, and Microsoft… well they don’t know any better.

As a not-so-mainstream consumer I am happy with the choices and pick the one that is the best. Hey Google, how about getting a real blog going!

21 Responses to “Tis A Season To Copy”

  1. Good point! Yahoo! should be building Yahoo! 2.0 but I am very glad to see that Microsoft and Google are trying to all out do each other. This is great for the consumer. While I doubt that Googl Talk will win in IM and Voice, I know it is making the folks at Skype paranoid, which will motivate them to keep innovating. The same counts for Yahoo! mail when Google launched Gmail. So, the consumer wins. Perhaps the shareholders loose because the big three are not investing their resources appropriately.

  2. chirag, i guess you are echoing what i really said. i too wonder if these folks are missing the point and forgetting what made them great.

    bytheway my next trip will involve going to that starbucks in canterbury

  3. “I’m hoping that story about their being a Starbucks built into Canterbury Cathedral was a joke”


    No joke, the Starbucks is located precisely there (at the main gate). And the thing of it is, my reaction as I approached was similar to yours, even though I was then (and still am) an investor in the stock. I should have been overjoyed, but I recall thinking then, “This is wrong, even sacrilegious!” The company built at least this outlet with exceptional taste and care and consideration.

    I whiled away several magical hours. I felt transported to a different time. I suspect I am not the sole person who feels that way in this particular Starbucks.

    The truth of it is that Howard Schulz (the company’s CEO) is on to something. I scoffed many years ago when I first heard of this concept, but he did something different:
    1) Instructed ALL his employees to ALWAYS make eye contact with each customer at ALL times, and
    2) Learn and memorize the customer’s name early, and use it often,
    3) Make each store an extension of a living room (cozy, comfortable), and encourage people (customers) to linger.

    These notions are radically different from the norm. I do not require special treatment, but as a human I do like to feel I belong somewhere. It is easy and cheap to tire of the Starbucksization of the known universe… and yet and yet, they obviously do something amazingly well. And better.

    What does any of this conversation have to do with broadband? Damned if *I* know! :-)

  4. Well Om,

    I think you have to remember that 50-70% of internet users are not as saavy as you with thier search, entertainment, and software choices. They choose what is easy and accessible. I think if the majority of people got everything they wanted from one site, they would go to and forget the rest. The very niches that google, yahoo, and microsoft serve, that is search, entertainment, and software; each company has started a battle to outdo thier competition in each one of these three niche areas to be the “one stop” shop on the internet. My personal opinion is, what a waste of resources and capital. If each company put thier full effort behind thier core competency, they would each develop better products that would benefit us all.

  5. Jesse Kopelman

    Clearly Yahoo learned from Microsoft Windows and is opting to skip the crappy v2.0 for the sure to be a hit Yahoo 3.1.

    I’m hoping that story about their being a Starbucks built into Canterbury Cathedral was a joke . . .

  6. “Just came back from the best Starbucks on the planet – the one outside 50 California Street”

    Well, that comment (quoted above) is not the topic of your post, Om, but I wonder…

    Have you visited the Starbucks in Canterbury, England? Built right into the wall of the famous cathedral (and right next to the main entrance), it was not at all what I expected when I visted the cathedral. I thought I would relive Chaucer and his tales.

    What is especially neat about it is that you feel as if you participate in the local life even moreso than typically. Because of the history, I easily could imagine the Knight, the Friar, the Pardoner, et alii having sat right THERE.

    I enjoyed it.