In the Internet giants' tug of war for consumer attention, is Yahoo!
According to U of M's American Customer Satisfaction Index, Yahoo! is now No. 1 in customer satisfaction, and it took the crown from Google. However, the two are still neck-and-neck, with scores of 79 and 78, respectively. Google's score slipped 3.7% on a year-over-year basis.
Of course, let's not forget all of the other Internet companies that seek to provide search functionality and information portals to consumers. IAC/InterActiveCorp's
Ask.com's impressive increase is definitely interesting, but for the moment I'm more interested in the possibilities for some of these companies that I've followed a bit more closely, such as Yahoo!, Google, and Time Warner, and some of my recent musings about them.
I've often wondered whether Google's metaphorical arms race with Microsoft could spell bad news for the search company, as it rolls out more and more products to take on Mr. Softy. It's not just me -- in Bill Taylor and Polly LaBarre's book Mavericks at Work, Marc Andreessen said one of Netscape's fatal mistakes was focusing too much on the competition instead of simply making customers happy. We all know Netscape's fate: It lost and ultimately got swallowed up by AOL. Andreessen sees the potential for a similar situation developing for Google if it focuses too much on warmongering against Microsoft.
Speaking of AOL, I have also wondered whether it's forgetting its customers. Back in March, I peeked at a transcript of a presentation Time Warner did for Bear Stearns' annual media conference. At the time, I questioned the company's emphasis on advertising and monetization of its Internet properties, and wondered whether it was losing sight of its content-focused roots. I didn't find much insight about what it could actually do to set itself apart for the people who matter most -- its customers. I thought maybe Time Warner's AOL division had better start worrying more about innovating and less about advertising; the latter is not so important without the consumers drawn in by the former, after all.
Last but not least, it sounds as though for Yahoo!, this could be heartening news. That company has been surrounded by a lot of negative sentiment over the past year or so, and it might surprise some people that perhaps it has been plugging away at pleasing its large customer base all along. Although such surveys should probably be treated with a grain of salt, the possibilities for companies to lose or gain advantage shouldn't be ignored -- nor should the idea that for companies like these, the customer should always come first to avoid coming in last.
For related Foolishness, surf these articles:
- Longtime Fool Rick Munarriz contemplated the failure of Google Video -- and whether that failure signals signs of concerns to come.
- In this "Fool on the Street" feature, I wondered whether Time Warner was losing its soul.
- Back in June, I pondered the reality that Google does like to poke at Microsoft.
- Last fall, Mac Greer talked to Bill Taylor, co-author of Mavericks At Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win, about whether Google's too bold.
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