Thursday, April 23, 2009

Yahoo! puts GeoCities out of its misery

A saga that's happened with more than a few free webpage hosting services over the years has now seen another repeat...repeat...repeat.

The story goes like this: The service starts out highly user-friendly with a lot of useful features, and quickly builds a durable customer base. But within a few years, the service gets taken over by some large corporation, which promptly mismanages it, forcing it to shut down.

It happened before when Xoom became the much-ridiculed NBCi. And now Yahoo! has similarly destroyed GeoCities - only this process has taken an entire agonizing decade.

Even before the takeover by Yahoo!, GeoCities was known for yanking websites on demand if someone complained about them (earning it the nickname Geostapo). But websites that weren't pulled at least remained usable.

Little by little, however, Yahoo! erased any advantage GeoCities might have had over other services. Eventually, Yahoo! added that aggravating sidebar to all GeoCities pages. One word describes that move: dumb. But few seemed to notice, because by that time, Yahoo! had already driven off most of the GeoCities customer base.

Now that Yahoo! has succeeded in reducing GeoCities to a speck of its former self, it was announced today that Yahoo! will be closing GeoCities altogether by the end of the year.

Maybe the real surprise in this story is that Yahoo! isn't going out of business along with GeoCities. Yahoo! has been much less widely heard from since it was revealed that it turned in journalists to the Chinese government, which meted out ruinous prison terms.

The demise of GeoCities also proves my point that the U.S. government never should have approved the takeover of GeoCities by Yahoo!

There's still money to be made in free website hosting - if the service is run by someone who runs it competently, unlike Yahoo! If this wasn't so, such services wouldn't have lasted as long as they have. Could we see GeoCities brung back from the grave by someone other than Yahoo!? One can hope so - as long as it's run properly.

But there's a lot of things that could still be in business but no longer are. (Isn't that right, Burger Chef?) So don't get your hopes up.


No comments:

Post a Comment