Few Questions Before We Say GoodBye to Yahoo! Search

Yahoo! has finally lost the search battle. It gave up its own search and now a month old Bing will power Yahoo!’s search. But before we write obituary of Yahoo! Search, there are a few immediate questions that come to my mind:

  • Flickr and Image Search: Yahoo! had a fantastic integration of Flickr in Image Search which made it comparable to Google in terms of relevancy. Will Yahoo! open Flickr to Bing as well? Image search on Bing sucks big time
  • Mobile Search and oneSearch: How about ‘oneSearch’? Yahoo! has a good mobile search product in oneSearch and its federated search result pages were a big hit, and had higher market share than Google in many local markets
  • Local Search: What happens to Yahoo! Local Search? Or for that matter other search verticals like Jobs, News, Maps? Of all these, Yahoo! had poured a lot of money in Local Search, and I guess Bing is nowhere close to Yahoo! in these verticals. The minority of loyal Yahoo! search users is only going to shrink further if Bing powers these search verticals. A huge opportunity to compete with Google in these verticals (where actually Yahoo! was not lagging way behind of Google and was doing comparably well) goes down the drain
  • Social Search: There was a lot of talk of integrating Del.icio.us with Yahoo! Search, which I thought had great promise. Search needs to be more social, and success of Twitter as search engine is for everyone to see. With a strong social bookmarking product like Del.icio.us with it, Yahoo! could have done a lot in search. Wonder what happens now with search technology getting outsourced to Bing?
  • Glue: What happens to Glue? Yahoo! launched it last year as a new search product and Yahoo! India Search have Glue pages for a large chunk of popular queries

These questions may be of no relevance once Yahoo! says that its technology is not the one which can provide the best search experience to its user. With that, Yahoo! writes-off all the investment and effort it had put over years in improving its search engine and adding those awesome search features like ‘Search Assist’ to latest one of ‘Search Pad’. With this, it also writes-off all the effort engineers there had put in building the search and its various features. Carol Bartz announced that there will be lay-offs in search team, and am sure elsewhere also in Yahoo! there will be a huge attrition now.

May be Yahoo! should have just spun-off Yahoo! Search as separate company. That would have unlocked the real value of rest of Yahoo!’s businesses in which it is doing quite well (It is still the most trafficked portal in world. Display advertisement remains Yahoo!’s forte altogether). Market would have determined the right value for this separate search company, and am sure Yahoo! would have got a better price for it than what it has got in this deal.

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