Why is Yahoo peddling old plug-ins?

A story tip leads us on a chase for answers about the intersection of Yahoo Messenger 9.0 with Yahoo Open Strategy.

It's hard not to pity Yahoo's very public decline, but that doesn't keep us from scratching our heads over the once-great Silicon Valley powerhouse's recent promotion of a plug-in that debuted a year ago and which its developers say is sorely outdated.

An early November post on Yahoo's Messenger blog promoted the Twitter-Sync plug-in, published by New Zealand developers WackyB.

Twitter-Sync on Yahoo Messenger 9.0
Twitter-Sync on Yahoo Messenger 9.0 (Credit: CNET)

Twitter-Sync, last updated on Yahoo's plug-in site over a year ago on September 6, 2007, is curiously said to sync Twitter and Yahoo status updates only with Yahoo Messenger 9.0, which was released a year after the plug-in was created.

The math clearly doesn't add up, but for WackyB, the promotion is an extra slap in the face. "Andy" and "Kathy" from WackyB commented on the post:

It's a shame that Yahoo decided to abruptly end its plugin program for external developers. We created this plugin more than a year ago (published date shows as: Thu, 06 September 2007) when Twitter was in its early days. There have been many improvements to Twitter since then but unfortunately we are unable to update our plugin to reflect this. We have had many requests (more so recently) to make modifications to the plugin but the only way to incorporate changes would be to release as a test plugin (a feature designed to be used only for development). It would have been great if they could have included a means for running local plugins before terminating the plugin system.

A Yahoo representative confirmed in a statement that the Yahoo Messenger developers program shut down in 2007, but affirmed that Yahoo's new Yahoo Open Strategy (YOS) will be available to independent developers "over time."

While YOS promises to be bigger and better than the Messenger developer's program ever was, WackyB's Twitter-syncing app will likely already be obviated by Twitter and Facebook themselves, who will be able to share status message updates via Yahoo's Updates API. Yahoo's Open Strategy will also bring similar ventures to Yahoo products like Yahoo Mail, which will accept updates to people's activity on Yahoo.

Yahoo's message to plug-in developers.
Developers have been forced to ignore Yahoo Messenger for over a year. (Credit: CNET)

As for the promotion of the plug-in in light of its developers' annoyance, Yahoo said it highlighted it to bring its attention to users. After trying out the plug-in ourselves, it's easy to see why WackyB wants to update its application. The program works, but in a basic and rather inelegant way by our 2008 standards.

WackyB may be better off going the way of many other independent developers and creating applications for iPhone, Google Android, and Facebook.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.