With all of the discussion around the Internet today centered on the potential acquisition of Yahoo by Microsoft (which I have to admit I am not fond of), one must consider Yahoo’s community and Microsoft’s lack of community (besides the Developers Community of course) as a major reason we are at this point.
Many of the discussions so far, center around the Yahoo’s search engine and Microsoft’s desire to stay in the advertisement race. In my mind, it is not the technical abilities of Microsoft’s search which makes them unsuccessful it is the fact that they have no compelling content or applications which enhance an external community. Most people that go to msn.com only go there because it is the default page in the IE browser that they are “forced” to use.
Communities are hot (apparent when Microsoft attempted to buy Facebook). They represent excellent channels and offer great support for brand loyality. And with the growing numbers in advertising (and targeted advertising) dollars – a community site or set of applications make sense.
Take Flickr for example – many people were upset when Yahoo purchased Flickr (myself included). Since Yahoo is favorable in the public eye, the “sell-out” to Yahoo was more digestible than a “sell-out” to Microsoft however. And while Flickr does have some pretty nice technical features and it is easy to upload photos, it is the community that drives that site. What happens when the community falls out of the picture?
Obviously, Flickr would come along with the Yahoo purchase and I bet that the thought of being under a Microsoft umbrella makes Flickr members unhappy (go Picasa).
So the question that I ask is “Can you really buy a Community?” I think not. Communities grow organically, and most of them grow because people involved carry some of the same beliefs and share common ground.
You can’t buy that. This will fail.
Updated: Ok, after reading this article “CNN.com readers weigh in on Microsoft’s Yahoo bid” it seems that the “public” are concerned about Microsoft’s purchase of Yahoo as a method for them (Microsoft) to compete with Google. I would agree on that if you think about search – other than that – Google is leaps and bounds above Microsoft when it comes to innovation. Unfortunately, the folks over at Yahoo may not be innovative enough to help Microsoft. Oh — this is sooo exciting.