A little under a year ago, Yahoo! launched what was their attempt at an open social platform. The project was called Yahoo! Mash and in under a year the project was shut down. Simply put, trying to attract millions of users to yet another social network. Personally I thought the idea was stupid and it appears that Yahoo! came to the same conclusion in under 12 months.
Now the company is at it again trying to build their own social network but this time around they are targeting the youth. The site is called SpotM. What’s unique about this new site? Not much. Users can have “secret friends” which aren’t revealed publicly and you can have anonymous text message chats with other users. While these are two great features, they are nothing more than that: features.
It appears as though Yahoo! is falling victim to the same disease that many Silicon Valley investors have: the feature-as-a-product disease. Yahoo! expects to attract millions of youth to this new social network even though they have substantial competition on all fronts and all ages. Rather than attempting to acquire another social network, the company has decided to move forward with a site built around two useful features.
Will this site suffer the same fate as Yahoo! Mash? Well, it’s easy to say that it will since at least 95 percent of new products fail but it’s definitely a worthy attempt by Yahoo! If there is no longer a way to enter the social networking space as a broad social network that caters to everybody, they might as well attempt to start rolling out niche social networks. It also appears to be focused on the India market as Yahoo! India is the group behind this project.
Given that the product is called “SpotM”, I must assume that the company is focusing more heavily on the mobile component and less on the general social networking component. Fortunately for Yahoo! there is still opportunity in social networking for mobile but even they may be late to the game. The market is rapidly becoming saturated and many users may simply choose to stick with the mobile offerings of the larger social networks like Facebook and MySpace.
For now it’s too early to predict the future of this site but it’s definitely interesting to see that Yahoo! has yet to give up on the social networking arena. Best of all, the company isn’t afraid to start from scratch. Not so sure about the start from scratch strategy but then again, what strategy does Yahoo! really have anymore?