Yahoo! back to 2005?

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Back to 2005

Events at Yahoo! this week took me back to 2005 – the halcyon days web 2.0 days before popular social networks. If you are vaguely interested in the online sector, you will have noticed that Summly has been acquired by Yahoo!. The acquisition is interesting for a number of reasons:

  • It is a statement of Yahoo!’s mobile aspirations. Yahoo! has been in mobile for a good while, back to 2005 at least. Yahoo! Go tried to pull all the of the Yahoo! portal properties into an app-like experience and Yahoo! ZoneTag was an early experiment of attributing location to smartphone pictures well before the iPhone. Upload to Flickr was integrated into many SonyEricsson and Nokia phones (notably the bestselling Nokia N73) But none of these pioneering efforts were rewarded with market share
  • Yahoo! is looking to buy cool, like it did back in 2005 and 2006, acquiring web 2.0 businesses. Summly has had about one million downloads, mostly by early adopters of its news reader. It is not the mass-market audience that Yahoo! usually targets. Like Flickr and Delicious before it this is about cool. Whilst most of the focus has been on the media, Yahoo! has historically made these purchases to try and infuse some of the start-up get up and go DNA into the larger organisation
  • Summly makes some interesting technological choices that would appeal to Yahoo!. Firstly, surfacing content that consumers would find of interest; particularly interesting given that Google has abandoned RSS. Secondly, using analytical techniques to create abridged version of content could also be a differentiator in search in terms of both presentation and as a technique to improve relevance (if the abridged rather than full versions were indexed). However, Summly doesn’t own the technology itself, but is a mashup of underlying services
  • The 30 million dollar acquisition figure being bandied around mirrors the rumoured costs of buying both Flickr and Delicious back in 2005 and 2006. One of the key differences between Flickr and Delicious with Summly is the technology benefit that was brought to the table by the web 2.0 pioneers and in Flickr’s case the quality of the business on offer. Prior to being acquired Flickr was pretty close to breaking even with its freemium model
  • Summly is an interesting focus away from the traditional Silicon  and Bay Area stomping grounds of Yahoo!

More information
Yahoo! to acquire Summly | Yodel Anecdotal