|This week, Yahoo announced the launch of its new super-product called Pipes. Pipes is not just a great product in terms of innovation, but it is also that after a long time, it is actually one hyped product from Yahoo which has been built in-house. Most of the other Yahoo products, including Flickr, MyBlogLog, etc were acquired from startups.|
Before, I move further, I will take a few lines to explain what Pipes does. Yahoo Pipes basically lets you, a user, create a mash-up of your own. Taking one example from the site itself, you can create a mash-up that lets the user know the latest products in a certain price range, that is out on eBay. This is created using the appropriate APIs available from the eBay website. Other easier examples will be to make a webpage that contains the latest articles on say, "Internet Business Strategies" from various sources of the internet. You basically use the feeds available from the different news sources and simply enter them on the Pipes creation page to get this done. You may go through the nice tutorial available on the Yahoo Pipes page.
Pipes is not the first time somebody has created such a product. There is already atleast one another product that serves a similar purpose. The website, called Ning is already a huge hit among web users. So, the question we need to ask is why did Yahoo choose to create Pipes when it could have acquired Ning, as it did with Flickr or MyBlogLog. The answer to this lies much more deep inside the company's strategies.
It might not to be wrong to link the in-house development of Pipes with Yahoo's competition with Google. Google, right from its inception days has been quite an attractive destination for innovators. As a result of their 20 percent rule; which allows the in-house programmers let one day of their work for their own personal projects, they have fostered an environment of innovation. Not only that, this has also helped Google Labs come up with innovative products every now and then, including products like Google News, Orkut, etc.
But the question still remains if the question of paying more to buy a product than developing it inhouse is the only reason for Yahoo to launch Pipes. Interestingly, it is not the only reason. A much bigger stake exists in the form of employee retention which has kept Yahoo more worried than Google, since Google has earned the reputation of being a great place to work in for innovators. This(focus on innovation) is one step which will not only help retain employees, but also serve Yahoo to project as a destination for innovation.
Incidentally, Pipes is just the first in the series of many more innovations to come. Yahoo is yet to formally launch BrickHouse, which is going to be the innovation center, and is quite similar to what Google Labs is for Google. The focus of BrickHouse is going to be on innovation and new creative products to the user.Though it is only going to launch in March, Yahoo BrickHouse is already working on several employee product initiatives. For example, one Yahoo employee's ground work on a project that will help gather a web visitor's 'fingerprint' in the form of his image or profile when he visited a web page is already underway. This is a great tool for publishers since they can now develop websites that can be closely customized to the visitor profile. It already looks to be one of the in-things in the months to come.
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