Home Portals 2.0 flesh out their product lines

Portals 2.0 flesh out their product lines

Tristan Louis
has compiled
some excellent comparison charts of products across the Big 4 Internet
companies – Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft and AOL [nb: Tristan’s site was down when I
checked, but you can also access his post
here on Google cache
]. The charts are worth poring over, but the crux of them is

“Google does innovate in some spaces but has largely innovated in order to gain entry
in markets that already existed. As a rule of thumb, they’ve been very smart at breathing
new innovations in those markets. However, their competitors are generally quick to
notice and are catching up.”

Jeremy Zawodny outlines his Google is Building Yahoo
theory in response – which btw I had the pleasure of hearing first-hand last
month when I visited the Yahoo! campus. Jeremy wrote:

“…it’s as if someone decided to re-invent more and more of Yahoo’s popular services
in random order, giving them a fresh user interface, less historical baggage, and usually
one feature that really stands out (such as Gmail’s storage limit or Google Talk’s use of

Scott Gatz, who is Senior Director of Personalization Products at Yahoo!, also weighs in on
his blog

“Google is replaying Yahoo’s playbook circa 1996. Back then, we simply looked at
what people were searching for and then built services that they wanted. Filo called the
query logs “our to-do list”.”

A lot of other people are saying that Yahoo! should focus on producing their own 2.0s
– e.g. Dave Winer
and Om Malik.

My take is that of course the Big 3 (I think we can discount AOL from this
level of competition) have a very similar product line – because they’re all building
‘portals’. It may not be currently fashionable to call them portals, but basically
Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft are all trying to integrate products and services into
one-stop shops for their millions of users.

Of course Yahoo! has been doing that for 10 years or so now, although Microsoft has
been no slug either with its MSN offering. Google is relatively new to this game, so it
appears like they’re copying the other two. But I see it more as a generic product and
service line that any big player hoping to be an Internet Portal needs to pad out.

What’s of more interest to me is the 2.0-izing going on in each of the Big 3 right
Dave and Om are right to point out that this is what each of the Big 3 should
be doing. I think Yahoo! is already doing that with their media focus; and Microsoft is making
all the right noises in its Windows Live and Office Live announcements.

I’m not sure what
Google is doing, other than continuing to create portal products (some of them killer, like Gmail) and generally
scaring the bejeebers out of Silicon Valley start-ups with beta experiments like Google Base.
Everyone is waiting for Google to announce a cohesive and integrated Web 2.0 plan of
attack, but Google isn’t talking – even Sergey Brin at the Web 2.0
didn’t get drawn into the portal debate. And that’s what makes them so

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