Yahoo Briefcase: Did you Care?
Yahoo recently anounced that they are going to close down their Briefcase service by March 30th, 2009. Wait…What is Yahoo! Briefcase? Did you even know about it? Turns out I had. I logged in with my Yahoo! ID and found a few of my files uploaded there. By the looks of it, they were done more on the lines of testing than actually using the service. I haven’t used the service for so long that I know now only as little of the service as is apparent from the front-end of it, which is just about as much as I care as the service goes down in a few days. But here’s the thing…why have these services been around for public consumption without being properly promoted…and that too by a company like Yahoo!
The arguments so far come like the user shouldn’t rely on free services so much that they are not prepared for the doomsday when the service creators say tata byebye or that companies although they push out these half-baked products into the public, and also earn some good cash with the horrible ads and paid memberships, they take way…i mean waaayyyy too long to get the service fixed up or removed entirely. In case of Briefcase, unlike say Yahoo Photos! there is no Y! recommended alternative or any Y! eaten company like flickr. It is a web-based file storage site to put it simply…set back in the web 0.9 days. So yes, you’d probably be uploading more data faster to dropbox or skydrive than to briefcase. The archaic interface would make you double check you aren’t checking the “best of the web from the 90’s” on archive.org.
Yahoo sure needed to upgrade Briefcase a lot, to get it suitable to compete with the current crop of similar web tools so why didn’t they upgrade it and promote it? Why didn’t they upgrade it atleast for the paid members who would have spread the word to people they know, or they could blog about? I used Y! Briefcase before I got into serious blogging (livejournal), so I never got down to writing about it. And in those days, net was teh suck…total suck. I didn’t feel like testing uploading big files.
Now what I wanna ask is why Y! needed so much time to close the service or to lock it into a paid-only service? They could’ve explained that development resources couldn’t be invested in it due to underavailability of the same and that they want to keep it open only to paid members. This they should’ve done quite some long time back. I checked my files uploaded and one of them was in 2005! But money is not always the only factor. As I understand there are many more services like Briefcase (remember Mash) that Y! comes up with, but are released out in the open for public feedback but not before giving a thought considering whether or not enough resources and time will be available to maintain the service. Its great to see these new services being showcased like new college projects, but when you put on the label of Y! and then just keep the project aside as if your 6 month internship is over while 600k users sign up excitedly to see not much updates coming, its not gonna help Y! much. Users have way too many more ‘other’ choices.
For a paid membership holder, the situation is similar to that of a taxpayer saying “where does my money really go?” considering the leaps and bounds of enhancement that Yahoo Mail! has gone into and so has some other services like delicious.com, etc. and comparatively the museumness of the Briefcase product. Mash was a much much newer product, yet they closed it far too sooner (coz they integrated the features in Y! 360, right?) and Y! Photos had an alternative Flickr. I guess delicious.com also had a predecessor…never used, never known. How much do you really want to believe that only guaranteeing your data’s safety needs you to pay up, without getting any other benefits or the assurance that things are being updated or atleast maintained with the same interest as the user has taken in the service.
The announcement states that the remaining part of the payment of the paid accounts would be refunded. What if they announced the same when they lost the data of paid accounts? What if the paid account holder has no net connectivity before and beyond the last date of Y! Briefcase being operational? What if that person was using a dial-up? or happened to be in a place at this time where you get only dial-up? Even as a paid-member, can you justify being refunded just the remaining part of the subscription amount and not get any data back? Now here’s the thing, if Y! does need like years to close a service like this, why didn’t they already tell users to start downloading back and backing up their stuff from Briefcase? They gotta admit, what’s never gonna happen. Briefcase ain’t a FTP, where you could just select all and press download.
Despite all that I think about the episode, things probably are difficult for Y! when it comes to deciding what services to keep running and what to ignore…until they look justifiably decayed and makes sense to throw out, but to a certain extent only, beyond which I feel Y! makes things difficult for itself, like starting to announce things late. Whatever be the case, I hope Y! should not get their Groups and Answers products closed, although they probably see the heaviest activities. They supposedly rolled out 100gb photo storage/file storage for every Y! groups…what the fuck for?! I also think a company should atleast take time to think, if they want to maintain a service or atleast keep it to test an idea (and admit it so) and later merge it into a parent product. I couldn’t believe Y! didn’t already buy a Briefcase replacement, before closing it down 😛
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Tags: briefcase, essay, opinion, rant, yahoo