Commentary

Hey, Yahoo! What The Hell?

Amber-Rose-BThere was a lot of press attention last week over Yahoo’s newly launched mobile apps and their use of the recently acquired technologies that summarize stories. Did any of these bloggers actually open the damn app to discover what an awful mess it is?

The news scroll at the heart of this app gives you two flawed modes. The headline+thumbnail scroll simply collapses content of all kinds in an undifferentiated feed. That's right -- “Boy kills 2-year old sister with rifle for kicks” is right atop Khloe Kardashian’s Cosmo declaration, “I’m Not Kim or Kourtney.” The app promises to let you personalize the content, but that interface kicks you over to your general Yahoo account to type in your personal interests. No, really -- I'm not kidding. It takes several clicks to filter content down to a section (shouldn’t a drop-down menu do this in one?). There is no easy way to customize this thing.

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The much-touted visual interface with news summaries is even worse. The text floats atop background images that are either poorly positioned or simply obscured by the text itself. In most cases the interface doesn’t even surface the summaries, so you just get huge images and tiny headlines that force the user to swipe wildly just to see a few stories. And speaking of small, just click into a story for the full text and hope your contacts are well-tuned. Wow -- I thought I was reading the privacy policy.

With this app Yahoo seems to be hoping we have forgotten it was ever a portal -- you know, a single stop for content. The flagship Yahoo app doesn’t even have direct access to Yahoo Mail -- let alone weather, sports, finance, chat and calendaring. Each of these content mainstays of the brand lives in a separate downloadable app. No, again -- I'm not kidding.

And I am not crazy in ranting about this. I have checked. The resounding response on the Apple App store to the update is negative, and the most recent reviews on Google Play after the update have also been skewing very negative.

I don’t blame them. But more to the point, the app leaves me wondering what this former portal is thinking. Do they really want to make it so hard for me to access the range of Yahoo services? When I use my Google app, it may invite me to download discrete Mail, Drive and other apps, but it gives me access to all of them within the single experience if I want.

Isn't this the company that pretty much invented real personalization with MyYahoo? Isn't this the company that may not have done any one thing very well but could be counted on to do it all in one place? Isn’t this the site that taught everyone just how addictive bottomless slide shows could be? Shouldn’t all of these strengths work wonderfully on time-compressed mobile users? Well, if they were there to use. Yahoo! What the hell?

And by the way, all of these integrated operations are available in a more fluid and mobile-friendly way at m.yahoo.com.

Anyone want to take a better stab at this than I in figuring out what these guys are up to?

1 comment about "Hey, Yahoo! What The Hell?".
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  1. Serena Ehrlich from Business Wire, May 2, 2013 at 6:01 p.m.

    If you think the interface is bad, what about the actual content. When is someone going to point out that all the trending content is coming directly from Reddit. The entire site has turned into a reddit broadcast system.

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