Is Yahoo Now The Web Elder Statesman?

Yahoo will close its online auction service for North America next month, a move that coincides with Yahoo's plans to phase out its original photo service this summer in favor of a more recent offering, called Flickr, according to this Associated Press story.

This might mean a maturation of the Web space, with elder statesman (maybe just eldest statesman?) Yahoo finally having decided what it wants to be when it grows up. The four most dominant Web players?Yahoo, Google, EBay and Amazon?also happen to be among the industry's veterans. But among them, Yahoo?founded in Jan. 1994?has the most experience, followed some 19 months later by Amazon (July 1995) and then EBay (Sept. 1995). Google didn't show until three years (Sept. 1998) after EBay.

But all four have been wildly investing in?and experimenting with--almost anything. How can one characterize what Amazon sells these days? Google is getting as far away from Web site searches as Amazon runs away from books. Yahoo's also all over the map.

When EBay?even with Skype, PayPal, Rent.com and Shopping.com?starts to look like a disciplined focused company, something's very wrong.

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