Yahoo Messenger is shutting down and it will redirect its users to Squirrel app. The company said it will be winding down its services to continue to experiment on how to improve its services.
In a messaging world which is full of competition, one should always be aggressive on thinking of ways to improve their services to be able to compete. The messaging world is practically dominated by Facebook. Any competitor will find it hard to live up with competing against the company.
Why Yahoo Messenger Is Shutting Down
Yahoo is one of the first instant messaging apps on the market. Today, Oath announced that it would be the end of an era for Yahoo Messenger, as it would be winding down its services on July 17.
The company said it will continue to experiment on ways on how it can have a relevant place in the instant messaging market. According to the company, there is no replacement product currently available for Yahoo Messenger.
Thy also said that they are continually doing experiments and tests on new services and apps. Yahoo Messenger users will be redirected to the Squirrel app.
The Squirrel App
The Squirrel app is an invite only group messaging app. This app is currently on beta. The company started testing this app last month and you can access to the beta here.
Since it is an invite only app for now, you should ask a friend with the app to invite you to a group to gain access. But the question now is, whether the average consumer would like to use it.
As you can expect from any modern app, the Squirrel app also supports file sharing. This ranges fro photos, and documents, to website links. But it will make you wonder if there is still enough room for a new messaging app. There is also the issue of privacy which is a huge hurdle for Yahoo to overcome.
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SmugMug’s CEO promises to breathe a new life to the dying social media pioneer.
Professional photo hosting service SmugMug has purchased Flickr in a deal which closed this week. USA Today first broke the news of the acquisition for an undisclosed amount.
Founded in 2004, Flickr is one of the social media pioneers. Before the rise of Facebook and Instagram in the smartphone era, Flickr was THE place to share photos while others commented.
Despite being overshadowed by the competition, the site still managed to hold on to a loyal following of photographers. Currently, the image and video hosting website has 75 million registered photographers and 100 million unique users.
SmugMug on the other hand is a much smaller, family-run company which started in 2002. As a photo hosting website, it won over its users with focus on photography and personal touch. Unlike free photo hosting services that rely on ads and user date, the company offers four subscription categories, all of which are paid but secure.
“Flickr is an amazing community, full of some of the world’s most passionate photographers. It’s a fantastic product and a beloved brand, MacAskill told USA today. “Flickr has survived through thick-and-thin and is core to the entire fabric of the Internet.”
Yahoo first bought Flickr in 2005 for $35 million. Even when the search giant tried offering new services and doing redesigns, it was never able to fully revive it. Verizon bought Yahoo last year but it was not clear what the plans for Flickr was going to be.
SmugMug plans to keep Flickr as a standalone community with better resources. Hopefully, under the SmugMug’s umbrella, they will “together represent the world’s most influential photographer-centric community”.
Yesterday, Yahoo shocked millions of users who could not believe their eyes when confronted with the advisory that it is transitioning to Oath, a subsidiary of telecommunications giant, Verizon. Although the acquisition was announced two years ago, the abrupt change, close at the heels of the Facebook data breach scandal was considered ill-timed by most netizens, including myself. Here we are, reeling from thoughts of our privacy being compromised to then being practically forced to read the fine print on the consequences of getting to your email. We had gotten so used to “trial or beta versions” of Skype, Yahoo Mail and others that allowed users to test drive the new version prior to committing. This time, if you don’t “agree” you won’t be able to read your Yahoo email – feeling like a hostage with an “I’ll do this later” button that freezes leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
We cringe at mail getting derailed or losing contacts and cross our fingers that the changes will be for the better and not the death knell of the once-happy giant. With hordes migrating to other social media, one can’t help but think, of “what ifs” – if Yahoo 360, Blog and Video were not discontinued, we would have a viable option in case we were upset enough to delete our Facebook account. Then again, it may not be the most secure option as it was hacked in 2014; a cyber attack so massive that it affected over 500M users worldwide. Before we move on to its merger with AOL (the search leader before the rise of Google) to become Oath, here’s a brief review of Yahoo:
Purchased at only 4.8B or roughly 10% of the original Microsoft offer, Yahoo is in bed with once rival AOL. Last year, Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL tweeted about the merged company’s strength and predicted competitive advantage. Followers disparaged the choice of Oath as the brand name of the union. The recent volatile reaction to Yahoo’s apparent email-hostaging does not augur well for the future of Oath. It seems as if it wasn’t a marriage made in Internet heaven, after all.
“Oath strives to create a passionate and engaged community of users by building content and products that inspire and entertain the world.”
Even with its advantages for branding and having prestigious names like Huffington Post and TechCrunch as part of the family, there is a universal aversion to the security clause that implicitly tells you that to continue using your Yahoo mail, you must allow access to private information, location, interests, and media and allow Oath to link it to their other subsidiary accounts “to integrate and improve our services, and to provide more customised advertising & content, as well as for other analytics purposes”.
In short, consensual hacking that is made sadder for those who’ve had their very first email account in 1998. Even with its numerous statements about protecting privacy, it does boil down to “take it or leave it”. Allow it to scan your mail for targetted advertising or it politely gives you instructions on how to delete your account should you not allow sharing of information with Oath and the Verizon family.
In Nature, the big fish eat the small fish, and web dominance in cyberspace is no different with tech giants taking over partners, competitors, and promising start-ups. The movers and shakers in various industries have many strategies to keep them on top like consolidating, designing new products, going into other services, and expanding capabilities – all of which make them hungry for acquiring both established and fledgling solution providers to either crush emerging competition or expand their core strength without the downtime. According to a ten-year study, Microsoft and Google are the two companies that are most focused on AI and machine learning and buy-outs are in the billions – but nothing close to the $32B purchase of ARM, a U.K. based chip design company by Softbank in 2016 and its $33B purchase of Fortress Investment Group, an asset management company in 2017
In 2012, Google, one of the pack leaders in this PACMAN-like game of M & A spent more than the combined acquisition spending of its biggest competitors using a simple guide, “create beautiful, intuitive services and technologies that are so incredibly useful that people use them twice a day (like a toothbrush)”. Enroute to Google Home and Alexa, the path was strewn with successes and curveballs.
From 2006-2014, it spent over $24.5B on acquiring YouTube for (only) $1.6B, Waze, Double Click, NestLabs, ITA, AdMob, and other companies that supported Google’s vision of dominating online advertising, mobile ads, home automation technology, travel, satellite imaging, and GPS Technology. It lucked out on Motorola, an expensive acquisition at $12.5B which was eventually sold to Lenovo. Its acquisition of Deepmind in 2014 entrenched it in the world of machine learning. Although acquisitions slowed down in 2015-2017, Alphabet (Google’s mother company), remained as the company of choice of start-ups. 11% opted for Google to take over their company, 5% favored Facebook while Amazon and Salesforce tied at 4%. From 2017 to the present, Google is definitely eyeing more cloud, AI, AR, and hardware companies – aside from software that could see Google Assistant (already available in 400M devices worldwide) reigning supreme. Proof of this is the acquisition of Kaggle, an online community of 600,000 data scientists known for hosting data science and machine learning competitions. Brainpower on steroids that could push Google Assistant on even more Android phones, iPhones, Google home products, and other electronic equipment and gadgets.
“I used to have this debate with Steve Jobs, and he would always say, ‘You guys are doing too much stuff.’ He did a good job of doing one or two things really well. We’d like to have a bigger impact on the world by doing more things.”
Larry Page, Google CEO in Business Insider
Speaking of Steve Jobs, Apple uses M & A to strengthen their core products. Focusing on innovativeness and functionality, Apple stays ahead of the game by taking some shortcuts -mainly, buying-out technologies from start-ups for integration into their existing computer and smartphone technologies. However, compared to Google, Apple is definitely more frugal at $6B total M & A spending. Eleven acquisitions cost Apple between $200M-$500M, and only BEAT Electronics surpassed the billion mark in 2014 at $3B. In fact, NeXT Computer was bought for only $400M and SIRI for what seems to be a paltry sum of $250M. The drive has now shifted from Mac support to mobile and AI. Turi and Lattice Data are focused on AI, PA Semi and Anobit Technologies target chip performance, C3 Tech for mapping, and Authen Tec for Apple Pay.
Typically, Apple completed the buy-out of Workflow, an automation tool for iPad and iPhone and will be hiring its creators. In what seems to be a surprise move wrapped up 2017, by buying Shazam, a London-based company that has gained unicorn status on the strength of its song recognition app. Apple also acquired Lattice.io for less than $200 and according to Computer World, “The startup provides an AI-enabled engine that can take unstructured ‘dark’ data and turn it into meaningful and structured insights.” Something definitely to look forward to as Apple expands its realm from purely consumer electronics to machine learning.
“Overall, these top deals reflect Apple’s strategy evolution, from a focus on the Mac platform (NeXT Computer) in the late 1990s to mobile (PA Semi, Anobit Technologies) and AI (Turi, Lattice Data) more recently.”
– CB InsiGHTS, Dec. 2017
Yahoo, one of the strongest players in the Internet age has been bought by Verizon for $4.5 billion. Yahoo will be combined with AOL to form a new subsidiary called OATH. It will eventually be on top of 50 media brands affecting about 1billion people globally.
With Google attempting to dominate the machine learning space, Microsoft seems the runaway leader in AI with its focus on AI products and solutions. It has steered away from computer products to generating 2/3 of its almost $30B revenue from its intelligent cloud platforms, consulting services, and enterprise software licenses. True to the Bill Gates vision, Microsoft is attempting to provide AI access to more people. CEO Satya Naella said, “we acquired AI deep learning startup Maluuba, whose work in natural language processing will help advance our strategy to democratize AI for everyone.” Of course one of the biggest news is the acquisition of LinkedIn – the social media of choice of professionals, entrepreneurs, and decision-makers.
The infographic below shows the dominance of certain tech titans running through the intricacies of the web. While the jury is still out on whether this dominance is a good or bad thing, it is clear that all these competition has made life more convenient for users who can do more, play more, and think more artificially.
Watch out for Part 2: Facebook, Amazon, Baidu, Alibaba
Where does Facebook come in all of these? Mark Zuckerberg has kept “enemies” close to his chest by acquiring them – Friendster, WhatsApp, Instagram and now Oculus, a virtual reality company are now part of the Facebook family.
After the escalating feud between Google and Amazon. This time we are seeing another war involving Mozilla and Yahoo.
Reports claim that Mozilla has officially dropped Yahoo as the official search engine provider for its browser Firefox. This means that Mozilla Firefox users will not be able to use Yahoo as the default engine.
Firefox users noticed the changes just last month in the browser’s default search engine. The move has caused a looming legal battle between the two tech companies.
Now, Mozilla and Yahoo sued each other because of the deal back in 2014 which made Yahoo as the default search engine for Firefox. According to tech analysts, the 2014 deal was actually favourable to Mozilla.
The deal has actually provided Mozilla an option to back out the deal. If Mozilla had opted not to pursue the deal, the company will be receiving a huge amount of money amounting to $375 million annually until 2019.
However, such annual payment is only possible if Yahoo was acquired by a third party company and Mozilla has a new unsuitable partner.
Recently, Mozilla has launched a major update to its browser called the FireFox Quantum. Firefox’s major update came as Mozilla terminated the deal with Yahoo just last month.
Meanwhile, Firefox users have actually lauded the new major update, earning a wave of positive reviews. Mozilla issued a statement on Tuesday, explaining the company’s decision in a blog post.
“We recently exercised our contractual right to terminate our agreement with Yahoo based on a number of factors including doing what’s best for our brand,” Mozilla said.
A number of factors include quality web search, and users’ context experience. In the end, Mozilla argued that staying with Yahoo may have a negative impact in the long run.
Responding to Mozilla’s move, Yahoo has sued Mozilla for breach of contract.
“Yahoo has suffered and will continue to suffer competitive injury to its business and reputation, among other harm,” Yahoo said in a statement.
Research In Motion’s BlackBerry used to be the smartphone of choice when it comes to business minded individuals. Not long ago, the word “crackberry” was often used to define individuals.
Now, BlackBerry seems to be a thing of the past, a pigment of man’s imagination.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has added more insult to an already injured BlackBerry, after she decided to leave the phone out of her company’s smartphone procurement.
Mayer informed the Yahoo employees that they will be getting the smartphone of their choice. Whether it’s a Samsung, HTC, Nokia or Apple, they could have it. The list even includes new models such as the Samsung Galaxy S III, Nokia Lumia 920, iPhone 5 and the HTC Evo 4G LTE.
The best part about it, Yahoo will foot the voice and data bills of their employees. Such a lovely gesture!
But RIM not being a part of the selection is a big slap to the face.
Not only is RIM losing ground in the market share race but companies are turning their backs off of the once king of the smartphone market.
According to a recent study by Chitika, RIM had a 25% market share last September 2011. As of July this year, their numbers continue to dwindle and ended at 1%.
Is Yahoo reflecting the current status of RIM then?
Google would like to cement their lead in the search engine market and further increase the lead they have with other competitors such as Yahoo and Bing.
With this goal, Google has been eyeing tie-ups with other browsers, even if they have their own in Google Chrome. Google and Opera have agreed to extend their partnership two more years making Google the default search engine on Opera and its Web browser. They started their alliance last 2009 and the two will be teaming up until August 2014.
According to StatCounter, Opera owns just a small piece of the browser market. Chrome on the other hand is one of the leading browsers out there. So why did Google extend their partnership with Opera?
Some say it’s because Opera still has their loyal clientele and Google wants to have them use their search engine. At the same time, Opera’s mobile browser is still popular in some sectors.
Google has also teamed up with Mozilla Firefox to be the latter’s default search engine. Mozilla Firefox is an open source browser. Mozilla is eyeing an entry in the OS business soon.
Have you tried using Opera on your PC or the Opera Mini on your mobile?
Yahoo! admitted that there was a security breach within their system and that about 400,000 unencrypted Yahoo Voices passwords were unearthed.
D33ds came upfront and claimed that they were responsible for the hack. They also posted the passwords and a number of associated email addresses online after their deed.
Yahoo! failed to give more details about the hack. But members of the D33ds said that they used Union-based SQL injection to get the data and posted it online to serve as a ‘wake-up call’.
CTO and co-founder of security specialist LogRhythm Chris Petersen said, “Web applications continue to be seen as a soft target by cyber criminilas looking to sell passwords on the black market. Passwords are of value when associated with an email account which is purported to be the case in the Yahoo! breach.”
Anna Brading security consultant at Sophos added, “First and foremost, if you use Yahoo Voices, change your password now. Unfortunately, the list of compromised websites just seems to keep growing, in little over a month we’ve seen breaches from Formspring, Last.fm, LinkedIn and eHarmony, proving just how important it is to make sure your passwords are unique and hard to guess for every website you use.”
Yahoo! and Clear Channel are teaming up together, in a deal that is both cross-promotional and distribution.
The two sealed the deal last Wednesday, which enables Yahoo to use Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio platform as its official digital radio service.
The deal includes Yahoo carrying a number of live events of Clear Channel, which they produce yearly. The iHeartRadio Music Festival is included in the deal.
There are 45 million listeners to iHeartRadio’s broadcast monthly. And their mobile app have already gotten 80 million downloads.
Clear Channel is the US biggest terrestrial radio that reaches about 237 million users in 150 markets.
Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman said, “We were thrilled when Ross approached us about this partnership. We like the direction Yahoo! is going and by working together we can accelerate growth for the both of us.”
Yahoo has struck deals with ABC and CNBC to distribute content across networks.
Yahoo interim CEO Ross Levinsohn said, “This partnership will expand our ability to provide consumers and advertisers with the best premium content available and provide Clear Channel with unmatched digital reach.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed to the media.
What do you think? Was it worthy for Yahoo to invest in iHeartRadio?
Ceasefire! We might see an end to Facebook and Yahoo battling it out over patents.
According to Yahoo’s legal team attorney Kevin Smith, “The parties are currently engaged in settlement negotiations to resolve this dispute. The parties believe that a further extension will facilitate settlement.”
Yahoo! filed a suit against Facebook last March at the US District Court in San Francisco, alleging the latter of infringing 10 patents.
This includes infringing patents in advertising, messaging and advertising.
Yahoo asked the court to issue an order stopping Facebook from infringing their patents and to assess unspecified damage.
Facebook vehemently denied the accusation of Yahoo.
Last April, the two company’s argument heated up with Yahoo accusing Facebook of buying patents from other companies in retaliation on the formers suit.
A Facebook spokesperson said, “We remain perplexed by Yahoo’s erratic actions. We disagree with these latest claims and we will continue to defend ourselves vigorously.”
There have been a number of cases filed by one company to another in relation to copyright infringement. Apple has been aggressively defending what they think is their intellectual property while other companies are trying to defend themselves from these suits.
When will the time come when we can all be together?