Yahoo Confirms Planned Search Switch

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-01-19 Print this article Print

The Web portal says it is ready to move from Google to its own algorithmic search technology by the end of March.

Along with reporting strong fourth-quarter earnings last week, Yahoo Inc. also confirmed speculation that it will be switching its Web search to its own technology in the first quarter of this year. The switch, once it occurs by the end of March, will mark the beginning of a bigger battle for market share in the search market and could happen around the same time as search leader Google Inc.s highly anticipated initial public offering.
Yahoo has been using Googles algorithmic search technology on its sites since 2000. It now plans to drop Google in favor of its own algorithmic search technology developed primarily through its acquisition last year of Inktomi Corp.
"We have said and continue to say that Yahoo will be using its own algorithmic process sometime during first quarter of this year," said Yahoo Chairman and CEO Terry Semel in an earnings conference call. Yahoo had already begun moving some of its search over to Inktomi, most notably with its new product search capabilities introduced last year on Yahoo Shopping, Semel said. Google is by far the most popular search engine on the Web, accounting for about 79 percent of U.S Web searches, according to data from comScore Networks Inc. But much of that market share comes from the use of its search engine in deals with Yahoo and America Online Inc. Yahoos sites, even with search results coming from Google, account for 27.7 percent of Web searches, comScore reports. Also during the earnings call, Yahoo made clear that by making gains in its share of Web searches it hopes to boost its performance for shareholders. Yahoo may not be the only company battling with Googles search engine. Microsoft also has begun developing its own search technology, though the company has not detailed its plans. Reports came in June that the company had begun crawling Web sites with its own MSNBot technology and launched a Web site answering questions about the Web crawler. Microsofts MSN Search currently uses Inktomi and Overture Services Inc., also bought last year by Yahoo, for its search results. Microsoft in October renewed until 2005 its contract to use Overture for paid placement search results despite Yahoos acquisition.
Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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