Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Latest Word from “Marissa Meyer Watch”

Don Reisinger just filed a story in the Internet & Media division of CNET News, which is the latest dispatch on Marissa Meyer’s plans to revive Yahoo! In light of my own user-based observations about conditions at Yahoo!, I would like to reproduce his key paragraph:
Mayer's first order of business is to improve the state of Yahoo's search and e-mail, the Wall Street Journal is reporting today, citing sources. She is reportedly holding meetings with Yahoo product leaders to determine why the company's search is seeing its market ownership decline -- its share fell to 13 percent in June from 15.9 percent last year, according to ComScore -- and how Yahoo Mail can be enhanced to maintain its userbase.
Having explicitly suggested that “Meyer needs to conduct a rather thorough audit of all aspects of the ‘public face’ of Yahoo! operations,” I would like to observe that any “enhancement” to Yahoo! Mail needs to be preceded by getting it to work reliably in the first place. This means getting beyond the sort of ludicrous outage that provoked that suggestion in the first place and recognizing that, at least for some of us, “mobility” means getting at the Web-based version of Yahoo! Mail from different browser platforms, rather than “mobile apps.” Apparently, Yahoo! Mail has done nothing to keep up with the changes in Safari brought on by Mountain Lion, meaning that, at the present time, it only runs at the most primitive level. In other words, if you want anything other than plain-text composition with no address lookup support, abandon Safari in favor of Firefox.

I was also amused to read that Meyer removed the monitoring of the Yahoo! stock symbol from the company’s internal Web page. According to Reisinger, this was to make sure that employees are “not distracted by its financials.” I am reminded of an old Scotland Yard routine from Beyond the Fringe. Discussing a major train robbery, the Yard representative tells the reporter that they think it is the work of a “mindermast.” Asked about the word, he is told, “We don’t like to use the word ‘mastermind’ because it distresses the men.” I am sure that all Yahoo! employees are “distressed” about its financial performance. Blocking that information will probably just add to the distress.

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