Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Flash deceptively bundles the Yahoo Toolbar

This is just a very bad move. The Macromedia Flash Player is now by default bundling the Yahoo Toolbar. Just when you think some things online were a sure thing, companies like Macromedia have to come mess with it.


As far as I could tell online flash content was even more dominate then Java. Why mess with a good thing? The reasoning is simple, money. Some executive had the not so bright idea to try and make more money by pushing the Yahoo Toolbar with their company's most reputable and widely downloaded product, the Flash Player.

When you check Search Engine Watch it becomes clear when you see that Yahoo at 32% is fiercely trying to gain market share away from Google's 48% dominance.

It makes sense too why I am finding the Yahoo Toolbar installed on clients machines all over the place. By default I always install the Google Toolbar and real Spyware protection not the ineffective Yahoo Toolbar that includes some form of the false positive prone Pest Patrol. This is besides the fact; no one in the technical community uses Yahoo or has used Yahoo since Google came around. Even before Google I never used Yahoo. Now the new MSN Search is more relevant then Yahoo. So when you get a search engine that people don't want to use pushed on you, it becomes aggravating if not enraging. Yahoo needs to concentrate on gaining more users by making a better search engine not resorting to deceptive marketing tactics.

There are some arguments that there is a clear option to select to not install the Yahoo Toolbar but this is completely unacceptable. The two choices blend in to the page:

1. Get Flash Player 7 with Yahoo! Toolbar FREE (Default)
2. Get Flash Player only FREE

The average user will easily miss this since the Flash Player defaults to installing the Yahoo Toolbar and people will only see the very large "Install Now" button. I honestly almost missed this the first time I saw it.


While the Yahoo Toolbar is in effect NOT Spyware and actually includes a simplistic form of AntiSpyware protection, it is still not wanted. In this respect people label unwanted bundled applications negatively. In this instance I cannot blame them. Macromedia needs to seriously rethink their strategy here. When I download Flash, all I want installed is Flash, period.


Scott said...

Hi, Andrew-
A few points to clarify:

- This is NOT a bundle- it's a web site offer presented only to Windows IE users who don't already have the Yahoo! Toolbar. No other browsers or platforms are presented the offer.

- You can still update Flash Player for Windows IE users via the same old, tried and true ActiveX 'silent' update process. No offers there- it is and will continue to be a clean process for our developers and customers.

- If interested, you can find more details here in the Flash Player FAQ.

Hope this info is helpful!

best - Scott/Macromedia

Andrew said...

Scott, you can call it what you want but the default install includes the Yahoo Toolbar. Calling it a "Website offer" is trying to dismiss it. People go to www.macromedia.com to get Flash and other players like Shockwave. They don't go their for "Website Offers". It is even worse that you are only targeting IE with this "Offer". It would NOT be deceptive if you had to click on something in addition to getting the Yahoo Toolbar with Flash. The current way it is setup is in the hope naive users don't look and install it.

Scott said...

Points noted.

For the record- well over 95% of Windows IE users (the only browser that is presented the site offer) update/install Flash Player by use of ActiveX background updates- which as noted earlier, are now and will continue to be a completely seamless, offer-free experience for developers to use.


Randy said...

If 95% of all users install with ActiveX why bother with the offer? It's because that 5% is still a large number of users and they will get tricked by the way it's setup right now. Don't tamper with a great thing. Flash should not be used to peddle an unwanted toolbar. When people download from Macromedia they should not have to worry about what third party unwanted software they are getting with it. They should be confident that they are only getting quality Macromedia products. If Macromedia must promote other unwanted software then reverse the order of presentation on the page. The primary should be for Flash and then "Oh by the way if you want this other tool bar you can get it here as well". Even that seems odd since they came to the page only for the Flash player and not for a toolbar.

Andrew said...

I agree 100% with Randy.

This doesn't look good Scott, it looks like the ActiveX install for Shockwave is asking to install the Yahoo Toolbar by default too. And that would be the way 95% of the users get it. Hum?

I don't see Sun bundling this crap with Java?

Oh BTW on that "Website Offer". You mean this one: http://toolbar.yahoo.com/ie
Some offer, people can already get it for free.

everglade's blog said...

u gotta update ur shit more frequently

michael_tzez said...

Flash was macromedia's bread and butter BUT now that Adobe bought them...Well that changes things a bit.

Money is the name of the game and at this point adobe is the king of that niche. They have no worries - The player is so widely used that they can't possibly lose ground. Besides, lose ground to who?

Don't get me wrong I agree with you 100% but it is just us geeks talking. The other 99% of the population will not care or even take notice.

Viewpoint Corp. is doing something similar but IMHO much more curtious / reasponsible. I bet yahoo borrowed the idea from them and approached adobe with an offering.

The big difference is that Viewpoint does not bundle foreign software. It actually offers a polite opt-in message to their own toolbar application. I believe that if flash was offering their own toolbar it would be a little different.

Just my 2 cents. Great thread.

Andrew said...

Good points, thanks for the comments.