Is Yahoo getting back into the game?


I’m wondering if Yahoo is slowly getting back into the game. They have incredible amounts of traffic to their sites but never seem to be able to convert it into great services and loads of revenues, when compared to a company like Google.

I am not wondering about that because Yahoo might be joining OpenID, which is great.

I’m not wondering about that because they are finally starting to innovate around probably one of their biggest assets, email, with Yahoo Life (not a great name, but I understand it is under construction. I think it is a very smart move. I have always questioned why so little innovation takes place in the biggest interaction thing around since last century (yes, I’m referring to e-mail). I wrote a post about that earlier, called “Dear Yahoo, Microsoft, Google e-mail: Forget about Facebook, start innovating”.

I’m not even wondering about that because right now I’m listening to a song by Dizzee Rascals – Sirens, which is not on my computer, but it’s embedded in a new browser based MP3 player Yahoo released just now. It allows you to listen to music on web pages without having to download software, which is kinda cool and useful.

I’m wondering if Yahoo is slowly getting back into the game because it seems they have some great people on board. Remember, great companies start with great people. Jim Collins wrote in his excellent book “Good to Great” that great companies first get great people on board before they figure out where to drive the bus. I wrote a bit about that here. Yahoo’s Ian Rogers falls into that category (picture taken from his blog).

Ian Rogers skateboarding

I wrote about a presentation he gave last year in a post called “Advice to the record industry: Go from distribution of music to distribution of emotions”.

I posted 5 advices there,and I think it is pretty cool that at least four of them are now being worked on by Yahoo. I said:

  1. Stimulate fan interaction. Provide the fan with a platform in which he can access the music content and mash it up into something new and exciting.
  2. Focus on additional content. If the music is free, why not give it to the fan for free? But lock him in with additional merchandising stuff, exclusive pictures, video’s, tickets to live concerts, contests, live chats with the band, etc. And while you are at it, combine that with the excellent branding opportunities it provides. And make damn sure it is easy and convenient for the user.
  3. Think interaction. People love to interact, and a fan is more than willing to pay for it. That is why they go to concerts and listen/sing along to the music. Add the mobile platform to this.
  4. How about providing the user easy ways to record and distribute his own music.
  5. Provide the music for free and across any platform the fan uses. Think iPod, think mobile phone, think stereo set at home, think computer, think p2p etc. Make distribution even more convenient than it already is, and make a living of the emotions.

With the release of their browser based MP3 player Yahoo is now creating the technology to make distribution easier. They are clearly thinking about user interaction and creation, additional content. In other words, Yahoo is looking at the experience of music, not the distribution of MP3’s. And that is why I am a fan of Ian. He just wrote another excellent post as a followup to last years work.

He is acting on the assumption that the previous walled garden the music industry has been build upon has set back that same industry for over 8 years now. I like Ian’s personal mantra

“I will not invest in futile attempts to create digital scarcity. I will always leverage scale”.

Ian turns out to be a visonair in this industry where he openly discusses previous failures and now promotes an open system in which the focus is to create user value. Not just for record or distribution companies, but for everyone in the ecosystem.

Ian might get some difficult questions regarding revenues, return on investments, etc. but I’m betting that he is going to kick start a change in the music industry, and to go along with that, within Yahoo too. A change where the focus will not be to leverage scarcity, closed or walled gardens. But to leverage user value, with open systems and easy to use tooling. Ian is added to my list of  people I admire and follow for what they are crying out to the world. These people all embody leadership that ultimately will lead to a next revolution in developments and thinking.


About vanelsas

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This entry was posted in browser embedded MP3 player, e-mail, Ian Rogers, leadership, OpenID, Uncategorized, web 2.0, Yahoo, Yahoo life, Yahoo music and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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