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The Titans Clash

Google may be the darling innovator of the world, but Suyog Deshpande thinks Yahoo! is actually doing the useful stuff, albeit without much noise and bells. Here’s how they stack up:

Gmail vs Yahoo Mail:
No doubt, Google mail changed the world e-mail. Gmail is superior to Yahoo! mail except for one small caveat – and that is Google has successfully fooled people into thinking that they don’t read your e-mail. They do. It is only time before people start noticing their rather friendly features (aka mapping addresses from mails automatically) are not only intrusive, but unnecessary and adds no real value to the service.
Advantage: Yahoo

Google groups vs Yahoo! groups:
Yahoo! groups has evolved into a mature product and has stood the test of time. Google groups comes second to Yahoo! groups in all aspects – functionality, looks, usability, features and ease of use. Yahoo wins here, hands down.
Advantage: Yahoo

Google Maps vs Yahoo Maps vs MSN Local:
Looks wise Google Maps are the best thing to have happened to the web. Yet, it’s Yahoo! Maps which still consistently gives out better directions. Google may argue it’s a beta product, but hell, more than 90% of google’s
offerings are in beta anyways.

One can argue that Google satellite map and hybrid map are its high points. But gentle readers, I suggest you give a look at Windows Live Local. Yes, a Microsoft product. It kicks Google Map’s butt big time. I ain’t kidding here.

Yahoo’s trump card though along with their maps is their ability to pin point anything on their maps – including Traffic conditions. And you only need to look at Yahoo Maps Beta, to figure out how good they are going to get with maps in a while. Yahoo! wins again, followed by MSN Local and Google Maps.
Advantage: Yahoo

Google Orkut vs Yahoo 360:
Both are miserable to the T. Its about time Orkut comes out of its “bad bad cookie, no donuts for you mode”. Despite all the hype, Orkut sucks in the looks department. Yahoo! has a clean interface, though I don’t know why it’s there in the first place! Social networking clearly belongs to Friendster, MySpace and the likes.
Both & suck

Google Toolbar vs Yahoo Toolbar:
Having installed all three – msn, Yahoo and Google toolbar, Google toolbar is the best in terms of how it handles popups, looks and icons. It’s cleaner than MSN and Yahoo toolbar. I have friends who swear by Yahoo toolbar, but I prefer Google Toolbar. Google wins this department. MSN toolbar doesn’t even merit an attention.
Advantage: Google

Google Desktop Search vs Yahoo Desktop:
Google desktop search has an uncanny similarity with its web interface; I can NEVER feel comfortable with that. Next the e-mail search in Outlook doesn’t function properly; the moment my mails got transferred to archive directories, Google desktop search would simply lose the link.

Yahoo’s main problem is their cumbersome look to their software. They tried to do a little too much and ended up overdoing everything. Google desktop search hogs memory and slows down the PC; their indexing database
consumed nearly 2 GB(!) of my diskspace – I usually have a lot of windows and applications open on my PC at any time, and can not afford to let a search service eat memory or CPU – which is what google did.

MSN Desktop search, on the other had, is much better than both Yahoo! and Google. MSN Desktop search wins hands down; right from its memory consumption to their interface and search results.
Advantage: MSN Desktop

Google Acquisitions vs Yahoo Acquisitions:
It’s a mixed bag here; Google has been buying fancy companies like Picasa and Keyhole. But clearly after the initial hype dies out, there is nothing really great, fancy or different about either of Picasa or Keyhole.

On the other hand Yahoo! has been buying out smaller companies like Konfabulator, Del.Ic.Ous, Flickr and more web based companies. Konfabulator rocks in comparison to Google sidebar. So does del.ic.ous and Flickr – each of their acquisitions have had a lot of merit.

Though google may have good products, I have to edge it to Yahoo here for buying out the right stuff.
Advantage: Yahoo

Google video search vs Yahoo Video search:
Both are different in the way they handle video. Google video search lets you upload video and make it searchable; their video player is fantastic!

Yahoo video search works more like video search – and often comes up with great and accurate results. Both win according to me in this area, because they are a little different in the way they do video.
Advantage: Google equals Yahoo

Google News vs Yahoo News:
Google News is by far their BEST beta product according to me, even eclipsing their gmail product. Not a day has gone by without me checking Google news several times a days. Yahoo news is good too, but not as exhaustive or complete as Google News. However there is one small caveat that separates the two. Google hasn’t figured out how to make money out of their News site, while Yahoo does make money. But I still think Google News wins it here.
Advantage: Google

In the end…
Phew! That was a rather long comparison, and it didn’t even include MSN counterparts for most of the services. As above, I just feel that except for Google Mail, Toolbar, Blogger and Google News, none of Google’s products have enough merits to cap them numero uno. On the other hand, Yahoo with its Local, Maps, Groups, Acquisitions have done a much better job of giving services to people which are actually useful in day to day life.

Both companies are doing good work no doubts about it, but I think Yahoo is actually doing the more useful stuff – and they have been smart enough to let Google walk away with all the glory while they quietly do their job. Cynics accuse Yahoo of being a copycat, but then, Yahoo almost always ends up doing a better job of it. So I cannot complain.

PS: I am not comparing Google’s flagship product Search vs Yahoo Search – its an unfair comparison. Google rocks. It would also be unfair to compare Yahoo Portal to Google personalized homepage as well. Yahoo rocks in that department. Both were their flagship products, and cannot be compared.

Till then, the debate of Yahoo v/s Google continues. So who do you like more – Yahoo or Google?

A few of the other offerings from these companies – which cannot really be compared.
Google Scholar: Thumbs Up! Rocks in its accuracy in searching research oriented publications.

Google Translate: Thumbs Down. This one has a long way to go.

Blogger: Thumbs Up! Blogger truly revolutionized the way we blog.

Google Print: Two thumbs way way down! I just disagree with the concept that Google wants the author’s to opt out rather than opt in to their project; they want to change the concept of Copyright to suit them, and will set a very bad precedent by doing this.

Yahoo Podcast Search: 2 Thumbs way up!

Yahoo TV: Thumbs up! It’s fun catching up on lost episodes of various TV series. I luv their TV partnerships.

Yahoo Messenger: Google talk vs Yahoo Messenger doesn’t even merit a
comparison. Yahoo Messenger simply rocks.

Yahoo Radio / Launch Cast: Two thumbs way up!! Possibly their best integrated service with their messenger.

MyWeb / Yahoo 2.0: Thumbs up! I love their whole idea of myweb.

1Feb 2006

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