I had no plans to give Yahoo a hard time. Give it a break, I told myself. Let it prove to the world that it’s not bailing on search.
Then I read Shashi Seth’s rebuttal to…well, no one in particular.
I’ve heard some innuendo that with Yahoo! Search transitioning certain back-end functions to Microsoft, we are no longer a “search engine.” …most industry players initially build their entire technology stack in-house. As these companies become more successful, and as technology matures, many building blocks of these products are outsourced – even some of the most critical components.
Take a look at Boeing or Airbus aircrafts. They outsource their engines to Rolls Royce, United Technologies, and GE. But, does that mean that Boeing and Airbus are no longer airline manufacturers?
OK, let’s put aside the fact that Seth appears to be just a little to thin-skinned here. Let’s look at his analogy.
Effectively, Yahoo has become the Costco of search engines. To be more precise, the Kirkland Signature brand of search engines.
Not familiar with Kirkland Signature? Then you’ve clearly never shopped at a Costco. Kirkland Signature is Costco’s “store brand”–where the actual product is made by some other company; with Costco simply slapping its own label on the item in question. Shop at Walmart? Equate is Walmart’s store brand.
OK, still with me?
So what do you feel when you pick up a store brand product? Are you buying for the brand? The quality? The promise? Nope, you’re buying it because it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than the brand name. It doesn’t excite you. You don’t “fan” it on Facebook. You don’t wear a t-shirt with its logo. Nope. It simply gets the job done. Nothing more, nothing less.
While I may have brutally twisted the comparison Seth was trying to make, I think it’s a fair observation. Yahoo has become the store brand of search. Content to outsource the actual product to Bing. Content to fill in the gaps of search demand. Content to be the Costco of Search.
Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know.