To many, Yahoo is little more than a has-been. The company, once a
powerful search competitor and top portal, increasingly looks like
it has nowhere to go. But, perhaps, down.

But don’t tell that to mainstream consumers. According to JS-Kit, whose
Echo service aggregates on-site and off-site comments for publishers,
Yahoo’s login service is the most popular amongst users of Echo’s top
publishers, which include CNET, Slate and Technorati.

According to data JS-Kit collected over a three month period, these users opted to log in via Yahoo 34% of the time. Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect were used 25% and 23% of the time, respectively. Obviously, it would be interesting to see the numbers across all publishers using Echo, and to compare JS-Kit’s data to data from other parties, but it is nonetheless worth noting that Yahoo still has some cachet with mainstream users.

Despite Yahoo’s woes, that’s not entirely surprising. Yahoo does have a massive user base given that Yahoo Mail is the leading webmail provider in the United States, logging into a website with a Yahoo account is possibility for a significant number of internet users. Given the wide use of Yahoo Mail, it’s no surprise that Yahoo has focused on Yahoo Mail over the past several years as it struggles to stay relevant in the age of social media. JS-Kit’s data hints that Yahoo’s focus on email may not have been that far off the mark.

Yet there’s an obvious challenge: creating business value from its position. Just because Yahoo still has enough market share (and mind share) to beat out Facebook and others across a handful of top web properties doesn’t mean that Yahoo is serving as anything more than a cheap login system.

In a guest blog post on the Yahoo Developer Network Blog, JS-Kit CEO Khris Loux states that his company’s data “challenges the notion that to optimize social media connections, publishers need to implement FaceBook Connect or Twitter“. That may be true, and publishers shouldn’t overlook Yahoo, but it’s hardly music to Yahoo’s ears. Facebook and Twitter may not be as popular as Yahoo when it comes to universal login on popular mainstream websites, but the relationships they have with their users are arguably far stronger than the type of relationship Yahoo maintains with most of its users.

Unfortunately for Yahoo, those kinds of relationships will be required if it seeks relevance and revenue.

Photo credit: Yodel Anecdotal via Flickr.