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The Blogosphere Discusses the Issue of Packaging Yahoo! Toolbar with Its Flash Player Downloads

Search Engines Pay "To Increase Their Connection With Consumers," Notes John Dowdell

According to John Dowdell (pictured) - author of the popular online blog "JD's Forum" - staff within Macromedia "tried to anticipate various reactions" to its recent decision to package Yahoo! Toolbar with its Flash player, bundling it in with your download by default if you're using IE.  A decision that has met with pockets of vociferous criticism among various online communities and blogs.

"If there's a potential scenario which could affect the common good, then getting it identified and addressed is in everybody's best interest," Dowdell wrote in speedy feedback to the hyperology.com blog, in response to the colorful accusation there that Macromedia "loves shoving icepicks under its toenails."

Dowdell, who joined Macromedia in 1993 and listens to people on various mailing lists, forums, and newsgroups, was addressing the ticklish problem that critics in the blogosphere had begun to say that they felt the situation to be reminiscent of spyware-bundling applications such as Gator and the like - ironic, given that one of the stated features of the Yahoo! Toolbar is its 'Anti-Spy' mechanism.

"I'm not convinced that this is such a good business move by Macromedia, even if Yahoo! did pay them a load of cash," blogged one UK developer. "You can guarantee that it'll put more than a few people off downloading the Flash player, and as a professional web developer working primarily with Flash that has the potential to affect me directly."

At hyperology.com the tone was markedly sharper:

"Most of the time, when product X comes bundled with product Y, it's because a) neither product X or Y is able to stand on its own, or b) one or more of the products is spyware. Memo to Macromedia, and to Yahoo!: spyware - even the mere appearance of spyware - sucks. And come on, Macromedia! The Flash player is some obscenely high percentage -ubiquitous - (to use your vernacular): why lump the Yahoo! toolbar into the mix? Unless the good folks at Yahoo! a) have incriminating photographs of your execs in compromising positions with farm animals or b) paid you fifty kajillion dollars (U.S.), reconsider your short-sighted decision."
Macromedia's Dowdell responded to this right away on the hyperology site with his characteristic candor:

"For the 'spyware' angle, the Yahoo! Toolbar has turned up as a solid citizen in my own research, but if you know of an existing or potential exploit then I'd appreciate the lead, thanks."

He added:

"Macromedia Flash Player is the single most widely-adopted software in history. The stock valuations of search engines are enormous - they have a lot (a lot!) more money than software companies - and they'll pay to increase their connection with consumers. For my own part, I like shifting some of the revenue sources from software packages to consumers, indirectly through placement like this... feels more democratic to me, but that's a personal feeling, and I don't know about others at Macromedia. Regardless, a deal has to work for everyone to be any good, long-term."
The online world was quick to thank Dowdell for his responsiveness.



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MXDJ News Desk gathers stories, analysis, and information from around the world of software design and development and synthesizes them into an easy to digest format for MX developers.

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Most Recent Comments
Mike Rankin 03/27/05 11:50:38 AM EST

I jumped into this discussion when it came out. The one thing that was positive was that MM was VERY receptive to criticism/impressions from the community. If you go to the download page now, you can see that the relationship between the flash player and the Yahoo toolbar is MUCH clearer than it originally was.

FunWithHeadlines 03/04/05 03:43:15 AM EST

What's going on here? Clearly Yahoo paid a bunch of cash to Macromedia. What's the matter, Yahoo? Can't get enough people to install your software on its own merits? Have to resort to tricking people into installing your software? That's the mark of a bad product. A good product people will seek out. A bad product has to be foisted upon an unsuspecting public.

antic 03/04/05 03:28:54 AM EST

Adobe now do the same thing for those downloading Acrobat Reader. Ticked checkbox for the Adobe Yahoo Toolbar, etc.

an00n 03/04/05 03:27:59 AM EST

Yahoo toolbar isn't a spyware application. I don't like it, but it's just an add-on app from a respectable company to help fix Microsoft's broken browser.

Spyware is a very specific word. It means software that reports back to the author with data about you.

I think a more appropriate term here would be "shovelware"... software you may not care about that gets installed just for kicks. It used to mean software that was shoveled onto a CD along with the main package, just because CDs had so much space free.

Husgaard 03/04/05 03:25:59 AM EST

Flash is successful. There is no real need for Macromedia to bundle the Yahoo toolbar with it, at least not from a technical viewpoint.

Ammocell 03/04/05 03:16:28 AM EST

It's reassuring to hear that neither Macromedia nor Yahoo! advocates spyware.

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