Yahoo Missteps its Way from Open to Runway

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-09-17 Print this article Print

Yahoo ceded its back-end search and ad technology to rival Microsoft Bing, part of a 10-year deal orchestrated under Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz in July 2009 to bring the company cash from a well-monied rival.

That effectively killed those open efforts such as SearchMonkey, the company's promising search widget project.   

What remains is a husk, a pretty UI wrapper that Yahoo is upgrading for the umpteenth time this fall. Yahoo proclaimed in is search blog the "new Yahoo Search experience for entertainment-related searches will provide richer content results."

Also, the new Yahoo Search experience for news searches will be more conveniently organized with videos, images, articles, and tweets on a single page."

Do such UI tricks sound like a way to get new users? Meanwhile, Google just launched Google Instant, a predictive search technology Yahoo mined in 2005 but never surfaced to great effect.

Yahoo Mail is also changing. This fall, Yahoo Mail Beta will "have a cleaner, sleeker interface that will make it easier for you to navigate through your inbox and use other features built into the product."

This could help keep the hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail users from leaving, but will it lure new users? While Yahoo is applying lipstick to a pig, Google just launched an interesting Priority Inbox feature for Gmail.  

Wisely, Yahoo isn't deluding itself in thinking it can grow alone.

Yahoo earlier this year announced deals to integrate with Facebook, Twitter and Zynga.

Yahoo is also trying to match mobile wits with its rivals in launching applications for Google's Android smartphones and Apple's iPad tablet computer.

While Google manages to wear many Web services hats, Yahoo's own efforts have come off as imitation not innovation, though Search Engine Land claims good things are on the way.

The question is whether this will improve user engagement and, in quick fashion, sales.



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