To Yahoo and When Not To - Part 2
DRIVE by Andrew Goodman, June 14, 2000 |
to Part 1 of this story
second instalment in this feature which considers the dilemma of
when to Yahoo! and when not to. Your mileage may vary.
may be a popular destination for those interested in online auctions,
but unless you've been on a desert island for the past four years,
you know that eBay still rules the auction space. (Not in Europe,
of course, where the leader is Qxl.com.) And this matters,
since an auction site gets better as there are more buyers and sellers
in any given category.
A test drive of Yahoo!
Auctions will probably surprise you. In many ways, it's
better than eBay. Searching is simple, and the site is clean and fast. The fact
that it can be integrated with your Yahoo! login is a plus.
But because there are
buyers and sellers dispersed around different auction sites -
eBay, Amazon, UBid, MSN Auctions, and a dozen other major
players, you'll be better off playing the field. An auction participant
needs to proceed on the assumption that bargains are the exception rather than
the rule. Everyone will be searching for a cheap, good notebook computer. If you
want it, chances are someone else does, too. On some auction sites, the high traffic
means prices get bid up. You might even be better off checking out a
local store for a brand new item. It's amazing what some people will pay for
a crummy used laptop. In any case, you need to do what you
can to get the edge in the auction game. Why try to guess whether one
auction's typical pricing is lower or higher than another? Here's where
meta-auction services such as AuctionRover come in. Now you can see all the
available items in a given category for a given price range. If you see what you
want at Amazon, there's no reason to buy what you don't want from
Even if Yahoo! becomes the #1 auction
service, there is no reason to be loyal when it comes to the delicate art of
parting with your own money...or flogging your wares.
Verdict: WORTH A DETOUR
When it comes to playing interactive games over the Internet, you have many options.
Some of the most popular reside at major portals: Yahoo, Playsite (Lycos,
Go2Net), and cobranded POGO offerings (Excite, Netcenter). If you think I'm
going to sit here and weigh the merits of different versions of Euchre or
Backgammon, well, fuhgeddaboutit. Let's confine this discussion to the sport of
kings. Whoops, wait a minute: depending on who you ask, the "sport of
kings" could be steeplechase, golf, surfing (really dude??), horse racing,
falconry [sic], or polo. As far as I know, you can't play polo over the
Internet. We'll let you know when they come out with a Yahoo! Polo - perhaps
some system where you ride around in a horse with a PDA which controls the ball
via wireless communications.
For the less active, brainier crowd:
the POGO version of chess, available through Excite and Netcenter, is more
pleasant to use than the Yahoo and Playsite offerings. Better look, better feel,
and feature-packed. There have been some improvements to the
system lately to make it easier to play against someone at your own level,
and a bit of the "teen social club" aspect of it has been absorbed by
the creation of a "social chess" category. The nice thing is, if Excite is down,
you can log in with the same alias over at Netcenter. If you haven't played
before, you'll have to get used to some annoyances. Many players wish to play
extremely short timed games. It's not always easy to find traditionalists on the
system. Then again, you can arrange to play a personal friend over the 'net, and
that way, you know what you're getting.
The gaming offerings at MSN might be worth
a look, as well. Millions of chess players got introduced to it via the "Gary
Kasparov vs. the World" competition. Kasparov prevailed, but also accused the
World team of taking secret direction from an anonymous chess
Aside from chess, there are so many other
cool games available through the major portals that they deserve separate
Verdict: WORTH A
One of the most
amazing and disconcerting things about the Internet is the ability to
track almost anyone down. The "people search" utility is a popular feature at
major portals like AOL, Yahoo, and Netscape. But if you're into doing really
cool stuff like quickly tracking down area codes, zip codes, or doing a reverse
phone number lookup (try your own!), you will probably find that specialty sites
such as 555-1212.com will do the job faster and better. Got a favorite sleuthing site? Do let us know!
Verdict: WORTH A
9. Tough Web Search Problems
The shortcomings of Yahoo! as a
directory and search service are often exaggerated. At the same time, let's not
kid ourselves:Yahoo!'s search capability leaves a lot to be desired. Now power
searchers may have a two-tiered approach to the search game, first figuring out
what type of search they would like to perform, and then choosing the
appropriate search tool. But human nature being what it is, many of us want that
one quick search box - and we're looking for the one that will provide us with
great results often. For many of us, that's Google. If I had a nickel for every
time I type www.google.com into my browser...! For others,
it's a metasearch engine, based on the premise that searching all the engines
will provide a more comprehensive result, and therefore save time looking at
different sets of results. The industry leader is
, but some experts think that a newcomer
called Ixquick offers better results more often.
For tough web search problems, you'll want
to take a detour. But there may be some Yahoo! features that will surprise
Verdict: WORTH A
Yahoo! does it right. Teaming with
Mapquest, they offer world-class mapping tool
which provides maps for just about any area you'd care to look at. As I zoom in on my own neighborhood, I'm
impressed by the detail. The map even has a name for the park down my
street - the one which I've always referred to as "Dog Land." For trip
planning, you can even get detailed driving directions. Are the maps
printable? Yes! So if you're going somewhere you've never been, why not print
out the local city map in case you get lost?
Yahoo! is also expanding into metropolitan
traffic reports (Yahoo! Traffic). This could become a very popular item as
wireless applications expand into cars. One thing certainly leads to another,
and another again, as the Yahoo! Traffic area is sponsored by Yahoo! Autos,
where you can vote on your favorite roadster, and eventually maybe even
do research towards buying or selling a car. The Audi TT is currently
blowing away the field in the "favorite roadster" poll. Sure, but the gas
mileage is terrible.
Verdict: STAY WITH YAHOO!
Stay tuned for the next instalment. Got a
portal feature you'd like us to review? Drop us a line.
Can you afford
not to know this stuff?
up for the weekly Traffick Newsletter
and stay informed!