The Wall Street Journal reported earlier today that Yahoo is in the process of building a Facebook Connect-like feature called Y Connect (no joke) for media sites and publishers with the end goal of bringing more traffic to the revenue flat portal. And, while a non-Facebook controlled universal login button is something the Internet very much needs, Yahoo’s attempt at a Facebook Connect killer will fail.
“With Y Connect, users could register with and log into media sites simply by clicking on a Yahoo button. Then, users’ activity on the media site can easily be shared with contacts on Yahoo.”
The way the WSJ vaguely describes it, Y Connect enables your login activity on Yahoo sites to be easily shared with your contacts on Yahoo. But how many contacts do you have on Yahoo?
The last time I visited a Yahoo site was when the service went down last Friday, and that was only to check if it actually was down. But aside from ignoring my website snobbery, the most horrendous crime Yahoo commits here is that it makes the same fatal mistake as Google Buzz, i.e. confusing people you email with people within your social graph.
It gets better; If you uncharacteristically visit a non-Y Connect site, your activity will be somehow routed through Yahoo Pulse — I’m guessing through a Y Like button based on the pattern. For those of you unfamiliar with Yahoo Pulse, its’s like a downmarket Google Buzz, which is like a downmarket Twitter. You get where I’m going with this (if not, see title)?
While Yahoo does have scale, and the Yahoo homepage does bring in a lot of especially foreign traffic (the site itself brought in 177.5 million unique Comscore visits in September versus Facebook’s 148.4 million) its growth (9.5% year over year) is nowhere near Facebook’s at 55.4 % and its demographic is only getting older.
And while Yahoo Mail is still the largest email provider in the world at 94.6 million unique Comscore visits this September, that number has been steadily waning, especially among younger Internet users when compared to Gmail.
This is coupled with the fact that no publishers I have spoken with have been approached by Yahoo regarding possible Y Connect integration, and one actually flat out said that he would say no to Yahoo if it did come calling. According to an email sent to TechCrunch, one media company is holding off on Y Connect integration because it afraid that it will damage its existing relationship with Facebook, despite the guaranteed Yahoo traffic and ad unit discounts.
So much of the battle online is won or lost on hype, and currently both Facebook and Google are not only beating Yahoo in coolness but also in stickiness i.e. time spent on site. My advice? Instead of having Y Connect go the way of Yahoo MyWeb, Buzz, Mash, 360 and the myriad other copycat Yahoo innovations that have failed, Yahoo should pull a Google Robocar and actually dump its cash into something innovative, for a change.