On Not | Mo Chit

June 25, 2004

Yahoo! and Jeremy Z. The last two days I've been quietly cursing at Yahoo! for screwing around with their IM system and locking out all third party clients. There's really nothing we can do about it until the clever people at Trillian and Gaim figure out how to fix the problem. Of course, they've managed to do it again, and hopefully the Jabber Yahoo! gateway will be updated soon.

My knee jerk response was to say "those people at Yahoo! are idiots," but then I read what Jeremy Zawodny had to say about the recent Yahoo! Messenger changes. The man clearly has his head screwed on right, and that's because he's saying it like everyone outside Yahoo! is seeing it.

Jeremy's adaptation of Cory Doctorow's recent arguments against DRM is insightful and makes a whole lot of sense to me. I personally have a problem with proprietary, public IM networks on an ideological level, but on a purely practical level their exclusion of 3rd party clients doesn't make a lot of sense. The people who use 3rd party clients to connect to the Yahoo! network typically talk to people using Yahoo!'s Messenger. By excluding these 3rd party clients you're pissing off the 3rd party client users, and the other Yahoo! Messenger users who all of a sudden can't talk to those people.

This is how Jeremy summed it up:
Screwing with the messenger protocol...
  1. doesn't work. (Witness the rapid adaption of 3rd party clients.)
  2. is bad for society. (Because it cuts friends off from each other.)
  3. is bad for business. (Because it ends up giving users a good reason to hate Yahoo.)
  4. is bad for artists. (Okay, this one does not apply.)
  5. is a bad business move for Yahoo. (Because IM networks need to figure out how to interoperate not keep each other out. Isn't communication the whole point?! Or is it segregation?)
Every time Yahoo!, MSN, and AOL cuts off 3rd party clients, it smacks of what AT&T did in the late 60s when they monopolized the phone network and didn't want people connecting any device to the phone network not approved by AT&T.

If Yahoo! has every thought about cloning any of it's employees, they'd be wise to start with Jeremy.

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