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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Google Answers Falls Prey to the Power of Masses

Google Answers is shutting down. Powered by a group of 500 carefully screened researchers who answered questions within 24 hours for as little as $2.50, it still lagged painfully far behind Yahoo Answers, which took advantage of a community of users willing to help each other out for free. A similar model worked for Wikipedia in regards to mainstream encyclopedias.

Yahoo CEO Terry Semel has described Yahoo as a social media company, and certainly Yahoo has a lot of hot properties (e.g., Flickr, del.icio.us) that utilize the power of a massive userbase to generate enormous amounts of content. Tellingly, Google has faltered in growing Orkut beyond Brazil. Its future seems to lie not in taking part in the expanding social media market, but in taking market share from Microsoft in its staple OS and office productivity arenas. Still, even though it isn't as strong in its more Web 2.0-ish offerings, Google is actually able to monetize its offerings, which many social media companies are still trying to figure out.


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