Will Tumblr go Tumbling down?
As you may all be aware that Yahoo! are acquiring little old Tumblr for a meagre £1.1 Billon, lunch money to the Internet giant who have been a major internet player since 1994, offering everything from Yahoo! Mail through to Yahoo! Answers, which we should maybe use to answer this blog post’s question. Yahoo! has a track record with failures (examples to follow), will they send Tumblr the same way? Or more creatively put, will Tumblr go Tumbling down?
So, lets look at Yahoo!’s track record with failure, starting with Yahoo! Go, a mobile phone application in which users could access most Yahoo! products, closed in 2010. Yahoo! Auctions, similar to Ebay but due to it’s inability to gain the popularity of Ebay in the main US and Canadian markets the site was shut down but is still active in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan (silver lining).
The main failure I think we should all look at with regards to the tumblr purchase is Yahoo! 360, this short lived social networking and blog site enabled users to create personal sites, share photos (from Yahoo! photos) and maintain blogs. Launched in March 2005 it managed to attain over 2 million members this being an impressive feat as it was invite only until June 2005. The site became available to everyone, invite or no, but their visits took a big hit in September 2006 – 2007 when everything effectively halved! Yahoo! 360 was eventually put on the back burner and in turn Yahoo! in 2007, announced they would no longer perform bug fixes or updates for 360 as they planned to abandon the project in 2008. This lead to an eventual closure of the service in 2009 when Yahoo! stated they wanted their developers to concentrate on the new Yahoo! profiles.
For all their hard work, well performing products with Yahoo!’s influence have a tendency to rise and fall, examples of this are Geocities, Yahoo! Launch, a YouTube styled music service and (for all you SEO’s out there) Yahoo! Site Explorer.
Geocities gave people the opportunity to host their website for free, opening the world up to the most weird and wonderful sites. Geocities was set to continue a meteoric rise to the top (at one stage being the most visited site on the WWW) but with Yahoo!’s purchase of the company in January 2009 ($3.87 Billion in stock) the success story that was Geocities would soon hit the downward slope Yahoo! often creates for its successful purchases. Yahoo! soon after the purchase of the company and re-structured the price plan, limiting the amount of data free accounts could have in favour of users signing up for a premium account, not only this but the purchase on a whole was extremely unpopular with users and many began to leave. With this, rumours began to circulate and in April 2009 Yahoo! announced they will be closing the service, they stopped accepting new registrations, although the already registered users sites remained active Yahoo! changes the Geocities homepage to say the site will be closing completely and in october 2009 the fateful day came and Geocities once flourishing site was shut down.
Despite some of yahoos very obvious mess ups, one very impressive Yahoo! product is currently Yahoo! Answers, offering users the chance to head to the knowledge market, ask and answer questions for points and really ‘Gamifying’ the pursuit of knowledge. Yahoo! Answers was created to replace Yahoo! Q&A which was discontinued in 2006. Yahoo! Answers continues to have world wide success with different variations in 12 different languages, with several asian sites using a non-latin platform for the site, including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Yahoo! continue to promote this product with celebrity guest questions and ‘Yamster’ the Yahoo! Answers mascot.
So, looking at the list of failures against success and the work Yahoo! did on their own blogging platform that came to an eventual dead end, what is there to say that Yahoo! won’t waltz into Tumblr and put a big, fat Yahoo! stamp over everything, alienate the current Tumblr users (myself included) and send tumblr into a Jack and Jill style fall from grace, Yahoo! 360 being Jack and Tumblr being Jill, ‘Tumblring’ after.