After my post yesterday, there seems to be some real speculation about an AOL/Yahoo merger. Could this be an interesting twist? Bloomberg reported on this already, and it is now all over the internet it seems. However, more than not, it all appears that bloggers and journalists are looking at this possible merger as a bad idea. Personally, I don’t see this as a bad idea, but rather a possibly epic move towards regaining some much needed space in user browsers.
Right now, Yahoo has to do whatever it can possibly do to remain relevant in the changing scene that is the internet. Portal sites are quickly finding less and less foothold in a world where social networks are finding their ways into people “default home” when they open a browser. Yahoo and AOL are finding that they need relevancy, and fast.
Both have already integrated Facebook chat into their IM clients. Both have integrated Facebook and Twitter notifications into their respective email sites. Both have lost their foothold in the search wars, now sporting either Google Search, or Bing as their default search apps. Both companies already share much of the same resources when it comes to news, weather, entertainment, and more. The idea of integration really wouldn’t be to far fetched.
What would both Yahoo and AOL have to gain from a merger, and integration of services? As I have said above, both provide news, weather, and other services from the same place. Also, both have other, exclusive, sources for news and such. Pooling these multiple sources together would strengthen their foundation to provide not only professionally generated content, but also user generated content when it comes to news.
One email site, multiple email addresses. Yahoo’s email client has not gotten better over the years. It is convoluted and bogged down with so much content. AOL created Project Phoenix. This is a very powerful, yet minimalistic approach to email. It reminds me of Google’s Gmail, but cleaner, and perhaps a bit more stylish. Combine Yahoo’s name, with AOL’s approach to minimalism, and you could have a strong game for email. Give users a choice of @AOL.com, @AIM.com, and @Yahoo.com (or the almost dead @Ymail.com).
Yahoo has had a few attempts at Social Networking with Yahoo 360, and more recently with Yahoo Pulse. AOL has been experimenting with Klout, About.me and LiveStream. All are interesting concepts that have been showing some promise, but Klout/About.me seems to be the most interesting that could really benefit an AOL-Yahoo merger.
In regards to communication, AOL and Yahoo have always been butting heads in the IM wars. AOL has AIM and ICQ where Yahoo has Yahoo IM. ICQ is pretty much dying off. It was once a popular IM client with some revolutionary features at the time, but has since then not been paid attention to. AIM has retained its clean presence with an almost minimalist approach to their IM client. It is lighter and faster than Yahoo IM, and seems to be a bit more reliable, as well. In this area, I would have to say that Yahoo should drop their client, and run with AIM as the default. The major issue here, though would be that Yahoo is on a proprietary IM protocol. Perhaps if AOL and Yahoo were to figure out a way to make the two protocols mingle well with each other, it would give users a choice of which client to use.
All in all, I think an AOL merger with Yahoo would be beneficial for the companies. I still stand that they should refocus to a more social stand point over a simple portal site. Portal sites have given way to dynamic social networking sites where user generated content has flourished. Pre-generated content is still important, as Google is trying to demonstrate with Google+, but to not find the balance will certainly put both AOL and Yahoo so far behind, no one will notice a merger, or closure.