Yahoo mimics Facebook in bid to stay relevant

Yahoo is digging its nails into the cliff it has been hanging out from, trying to stay relevent in a society that is quickly forgetting about it by mimicking the successes of Facebook.

In a very obvious attempt to ride on the coat-tails of the successful social network Yahoo has signed deals with several major social gaming outfits, including Facebook’s ally Zynga, infamous for its FarmVille and Mafia Wars, to name a few. Others like OMGPOP and Elex are also supplying social games for Yahoo.

The games will start appearing on many of Yahoo’s key products, such as Yahoo Games, My Yahoo,  Yahoo Messenger 11, Yahoo Pulse, and the Yahoo browser toolbar, which the one person uses it, Carol Bartz, will enjoy. 

The ailing company  tried another Facebook-esque move with the announcement of its location-based service called Local Offers, which will combine locations and information about local vendors with coupons and deal offers.

“Be where the consumer is. This is about mobile,” said Blake Irving, Chief Product Officer for Yahoo.

Yahoo claims this is different to what everyone else is offering, but when you think about it it’s really not. Location-based services are nothing new and neither are the hundreds of coupon sites around. Combining the two is a logical next step, but it’s hardly as ground-breaking as Yahoo believes it is or needs to be.

If there was any doubt that Yahoo is looking to Facebook as an inspiration for how to recover from its current slumping position, its CEO, Carol Bartz, said at the Web 2.0 Summit this week: “We can [emulate Facebook] after we get our own house in order.”

The problem is that it may never get its house in order, and it seems unlikely that any effort to steal Facebook’s thunder will really work, because Yahoo simply lacks the mechanism that makes these features successful for Zuckerberg’s website.