This week a for many sites relatively unknown search engine referrer put itself in the spotlight with the announcement that starting in May they will expand email storage for all of their users from 1GB to ... unlimited.
That got a lot of people's attention: "Storage in the cloud!", "The fight for user content!", "Gmail left in the dust!", "Others will soon follow!"
Which is great news for Yahoo! and almost an ode to the stealth with which they operate. Really, this is no news.
Yahoo! has been outdoing, bypassing and surpassing Google since a long, long time.
Because, who is "unlimited is our middle name" Yahoo!?
With a 42% market share Yahoo! is the largest, most popular email service on the web. Google with less than 3% is nobody.
They are the leader in business and finance, gobbling up 35% of the market versus Google's quarter of one percent.
Its 21% hold on the web maps market outdoes Google's 8% quite a bit.
It owns the #1 Internet browser toolbar with which it receives 48.5% of all toolbar searches (Google 46.4%). The toolbar provides Yahoo! with a wealth of user behavior data and invites users directly to their site for a multitude of services, most of which aren't even offered by Google.
According to comScore 30 million unique monthly visitors make Yahoo! the #1 market leader in online photo storage. Hitwise puts them at #2. Well known Flickr lacks far behind -- but is also owned by Yahoo! Google doesn't even begin to come close with their Picasa Web Album offering.
By the way, you did know that instead of 1 GB of space (Google's Picasa) Yahoo! Photos offers free, unlimited storage of high-resolution photos, with unlimited uploads and downloads? Unlimited is not a new concept to Yahoo!
It owns del.icio.us, perhaps the social bookmarking site, and in just under a year grew its user base by 300%.
It also has two Yahoo! branded online bookmarking services: Bookmarks and MyWeb. One is private, the other can be shared and if you use both, your bookmarks are automatically available in both their services. Didn't Google have some kind of online bookmark thingie too? Hmm....
22 million people use Yahoo! Messenger. A "whopping" 900 thousand use Google Talk...
Yahoo! is that site used by over 40% of all people online world-wide, used every day by consumers and companies looking for information, news, entertainment, merchandise, and the ability to communicate.
It offers every type of news, video, music, photos, calendar, address book, email, discussion groups, dictionary, and then some.
As Niehaus Ryan Wong said in 1995, "The vision was to create a place that would connect anybody with anything they needed or anybody they needed."
Google's revenue comes almost entirely from search ad sales.
February 5 Yahoo! launched Panama, its new Internet advertising program. One week later click-through-rates had gone up by 5%. In the second week comScore reported close to 10%.
The consequent revenue growth from searches for the second half of this year is expected to be more than 20 percent.
Yahoo stock has gained 23%
As I sit here, I cannot come up with a single product with a lower switching cost than Google search (as a user). Can you? One of the few things Yahoo got right early was that it created some other applications with relatively high switching costs, like the My Yahoo portal, Yahoo mail and an address book. I suspect much of Yahoo's search traffic (= ad revenue) is a result of users of other applications searching because they were already there.
-- Brian Halligan