Layoffs vs. New Hires: How Yahoo! Could Learn From Apple’s Focus

What does Apple, the king of Think Different™ do best? Besides thinking differently? Apple has focus. Focus is what Yahoo! could learn from Apple.

What is Apple?

Apple is a company that makes great products and tools; desktop and notebook computers, mobile devices, and integrated applications.

Apple’s focus is on the ecosystem of Apple’s products and software.

What is Yahoo!

Yahoo! may have started life as a search engine, but whatever it is now, it’s not an example of a business with focus.

The company just announced that another 2,000 employees will be axed; about 14 percent of the company’s entire workforce. That’s the sixth major layoff in four years under three different CEOs.

Why?

Yahoo! can’t remember who or what it is. It’s not a search engine anymore. That’s been relegated to Microsoft. From what I can tell, Yahoo! is a content aggregator that sells ads. And, like Google, when you visit a Yahoo! property, you become the product. Yahoo! derives data from you, and sells it to advertisers.

Competition being what it is, Yahoo! hasn’t been able to grow revenue or profits to have a positive impact on the company’s stock price.

Maybe Yahoo! could learn from Apple’s ability to focus. While Yahoo! is laying off staff, Apple is hiring. Why? Apple found a way to compete against Microsoft, PC manufacturers, and smart phone makers.

Meanwhile, Yahoo! has stumbled repeatedly against Google, Facebook, and Microsoft.

What do you think when you hear the name Yahoo!? Search engine? News? Content portal?

What do you think when you hear the name Apple? Computers and software?

Apple develops and integrates products, services, software in a way that delights customers. When was the last time you were delighted about a visit to Yahoo.com?

Apple employees take great delight in building products that customers love. What do Yahoo! employees take delight in?

Yahoo!’s new CEO, Scott Thompson, said:

We are intensifying our efforts on our core businesses and redeploying resources to our most urgent priorities. Our goal is to get back to our core purpose — putting our users and advertisers first. And we are moving aggressively to achieve that goal.

Here’s what Apple’s Steve Jobs had to say about the Mac:

We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build the Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build.

See the difference?

Yahoo!’s new CEO sounds like an executive; a businessman trying to figure out what to build. Jobs sounded like an artist who focused on the art of building products people want to use.

What does Yahoo! build that excites people and makes them want to use it above all others? Once Yahoo!’s CEO figures that out, the results might be better than layout off thousands of people.