Yahoo to Break Open

    September 12, 2007

It must be Yahoo day today. Business Week reports that Yahoo is working to open up: not just in transparency, but in involving users—and especially user-developers—to improve Yahoo. Scott Moore, head of news and information for Yahoo’s Media Group, told Business Week, “We are trying to make Yahoo into more of an open platform that lots of people can plug into.”

The Business Week article also states that

The company is also working with partners to create applications that let users embed non-Yahoo sites and services onto their personalized Yahoo homepage. Yahoo says such steps are only the beginning.

These widgets, comparable to Google Gadgets or Facebook Apps, may not be the first of their kind, but could be a vital step in revitalizing Yahoo’s fortunes. Of course, My Yahoo has had “modules” for some time now, and it doesn’t seem to have helped.

They’ve already begun by releasing the source code to Yahoo Mail, which we noted earlier this week as one of the premiere Web email services and Yahoo’s underutilized potential strengths. Sue Decker said in July that they would like “activate” this dormant social network.

Brad Garlinghouse, author of last year’s Peanut Butter Manifesto and Senior Vice President of Communications, Communities, and Front Doors, forsees:

a future where Yahoo Mail could include a widget from Web invitation site Evite, a subsidiary of Yahoo competitor IAC/InterActive, that could let users share events with their Yahoo contact list. Garlinghouse also sees potential for Yahoo users to include links to profiles on social networks such as News Corp.’s MySpace within new Yahoo profiles. “We are going to experiment, we are going to take more risks,” Garlinghouse says.

Coming so soon after the announcement of Yahoo’s Right Media accidentally spreading a virus with its ads, it’s important to note that this open platform could encourage further virus and spam attacks. Business Week draws a parallel with Facebook Apps, which have had some struggles in these areas.

Of course, much of this is purely speculation. We’ll have to wait and see how much Yahoo will open up, if at all.