2006 is going to be a year where the creators of web technology have the opportunity to make their services better in terms of integration, usability, and usefulness.
Ken Yarmosh, Looking towards 2006
Integration – Web 2.0 services must be seamless
Yahoo! has the opportunity to be the poster child of an integrated Web 2.0 world in 2006. Start with the next version of Yahoo! Mail (not yet available to the public), complete with an integrated feed reader. Then consider two key 2005 acquisitions – social bookmarking kingpin del.icio.us and photo sharing Flickr, their Yahoo! 360 initiative, and the industry leading Yahoo! Groups – it doesn’t take too much to see that Yahoo! has the opportunity to seamlessly tie together some very popular services for their users.
Yahoo! is quickly pushing towards integration. Take a look at Scott Gatz’s presentation, where he details how RSS has been integrated across their network of products. Indeed, syndication will be the key to their success in this arena.
Yahoo! 360 already allows users to share their photos from Flickr and also provides a way to keep track of Yahoo! Group memberships. But to get to the next level, imagine some tweaks including a handful of sidebar modules that sync via RSS to the 360 user’s Yahoo! Inbox, to feed subscriptions from Yahoo! Mail, and to bookmarks from a del.icio.us account. Incorporating any of this content is available from the single sign-on.
Without the transparency of an integrated RSS reader or blogging as ‘just another part’ of the Yahoo! 360 homepage, it’s much more difficult to bring these technologies to the average user. They are just not simple enough for people to grasp on their own. Not only must users learn about new concepts, they must then find and select the technology they need (e.g., RSS reader or blogging platform). Average Internet users don’t even know where to begin to find these services – and without integration, they won’t care.
Flickr and del.icio.us succeeded with a critical mass of early adopters and tech savvy individuals. Yahoo! has the resources and opportunity to make these services flourish outside these communities. Web 2.0 services have appeared on the radar and demanded attention because of the excellence of their vertical service offering. To achieve widespread adoption, however, providers must bring these technologies to their users; they must integrate them into favorite online hang-outs. That means that the big dogs – Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft – have an advantage because of their huge user base, as well as their flourishing sites and services.
From this perspective, sites like MySpace have the opportunity to become even more powerful. Don Dodge notes that MySpace is number one in page views over GYM – mainly because of “communication and connecting”. In my reflections on 2005, I observed that MySpace’s success is due in part to intuitiveness – it’s a place for friends. If other services offerings can continue to be integrated seamlessly, MySpace may become the banner of next generation online communication. Consider the addition of a VoIP like service or enabling a way for those outside MySpace to send messages inside the system. Already, I have younger family members who have no e-mail address because they use MySpace as they only way to communicate with friends.
Without making new web technologies simple, seamless, and integrated, they cannot succeed outside the technical community. 27% of MyYahoo! users are unaware they consume RSS feeds – that’s a good thing. 2006 will bring the opportunity to do more of the same.
Stay tuned for the next opportunity – usability.