With Inktomi, AltaVista and Overture acquisitions and native technology, Yahoo has built its own new Web search system, which now rivals Google's in speed and accuracy. James Fallows writes With X1 - Yahoo is able to provide a good desktop search product, with Flickr, a system for storing, sharing and commenting on photographs; a scheduling application called Upcoming; and the mail utility Oddpost, on which it is basing a new e-mail system. Last year, Yahoo overtook Hotmail to become the world's most-used free e-mail service & its new e-mail system, scheduled for release next year, applies AJAX technology to mimic the speed and power of a normal desktop.
Yahoo in the long term has plans for search seem quite different from Google's. Yahoo views the very scale and sprawl of its operations - the seemingly random assemblage of sites and functions, the 200 million active users in more than 20 countries - as a crucial competitive advantage. Look for an interesting comparison of search results in the same web page. Yahoo is modeling itself after the entertainment industry. It believes its future largely lies in building the equivalent of online theme parks featuring fantasy sports leagues, music, sites for new TV shows and other branded content and services. Yahoo wants users to come often and stay a long time so it can put more and more ads on their screens. Google is thriving on the Web's vast sprawl rather than trying to occupy one corner of it. Yahoo sees the search playing three acts:
- The first is the 'public' Web, where if different people type the same query they'll all get the same results.
- The second is purely personal search - finding a file or photo, usually on your own machine.
- The third is the "social" or "community" searching, in which each attempt to find the right restaurant listing, medical advice site, vacation tip or other bit of information takes advantage of other people's successes and failures in locating the same information.
The different is in Yahoo's systematic plan to build "community intelligence" into nearly all aspects of its operation - and in turn, to entice users to spend more and more of their time on Yahoo sites, where they can see Yahoo ads like that can be seen at http://myweb2.search.yahoo.com. A query from this page will return results from three sources. One is "My Web," or pages each user has marked and asked Yahoo to save for later reference. (These pages are saved by Yahoo itself, on its servers.) Another is "Everyone's Web," the general Internet. Finally, there is "My Community's Web," pages marked as interesting or valuable by members of a social network. Yahoo sees its roles as really about getting the average consumer to move their lives online. With Yahoo’s ambitious investment plans along withwhat appears to be a well set direction towards the future,it may well become possible.