Yahoo! Drops Google, Launches New Search Engine

Yahoo! has ended its marriage of convenience with Google and has begun to field test its own search engine technology in regional markets. The rollout of Yahoo's new engine, built on top of technology acquired from Inktomi, marks an unofficial end to its partnership with Google, which dates back to October 2002.

The company's agreement with Google is not set to expire until the end of this year, but contains no clause to make Yahoo!'s use of Google's unique technology exclusive. To gauge customer response, Yahoo! has fragmented its use of search engines; Google technology remains in some markets, but the United States has already migrated over to Yahoo! Search.

Once the deployment is complete, Yahoo! claims that it will have gobbled up nearly 50 percent of US search traffic.

Google essentially filled the void left by Yahoo!'s transition from a hand compiled directory of Web sites to modern algorithmic search technology that includes index and ranking mechanisms. Within two months of signing with Google, Yahoo! shed its dependency on third parties and purchased Inktomi. The buying spree continued with the purchase of Overture in July 2003.

Overture's assets included AltaVista and AllTheWeb.

Putting his best spin on the migration, Jeff Weiner, senior vice president of Yahoo! Search and Marketplace said, "Today's announcement marks the beginning of a rapid succession of innovations from Yahoo! Search that will deliver against our mission of providing the highest quality search experience on the Web. Within the next few weeks and months, consumers will continue to see improvements to Yahoo's search technology in addition to advancements in search personalization and other user features."

Although search results look nearly indistinguishable from when Google powered Yahoo!’s listings, the new technology under the hood has opened the door for Yahoo! to begin using search in new ways, and has allowed the company to consolidate its product groups.

According to Yahoo!, its search technology is already integrated into Yahoo! News Search, and the Yahoo! Product Search.  Future use is planned for Yahoo! Travel, Local, Personals and Yahoo! HotJobs. In addition, the My Yahoo! portal integrates XML/RSS site syndication content.

Internally, Yahoo! has merged its Search team with its Yahoo! Mail group. The end result of this pairing is an ostensible reduction in irrelevant and duplicate search results, as well as souped up spam blocking in Yahoo!’s SpamGuard filter.

Yahoo! is certain to face continued competition from Google and Microsoft as the three fight it out for market dominance. As Yahoo! finds its legs, Google has announced that its Web index has cataloged over 6 billion items, sealing its position as the largest purveyor of information online.

Microsoft, Yahoo!’s latest rival, is investing significant resources into its MSN search engine on what a company spokesperson characterized as an "immense scale." Like Yahoo!, MSN's search engine is algorithmic and engineered to make relevant search results its number one priority.

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