February 17, 2004 9:17 PM PST
Yahoo dumps Google search technology
Web portal Yahoo has dropped Google as the default search technology provider for its U.S.-based Web sites, replacing it with its own tools, picked up through acquisitions.
The move signals the beginning of the end for the Web's most high-profile marriage of convenience. It's part of Yahoo's push to become the Web's top search engine again.
The change occurred at 9:30 p.m. PST Tuesday when Yahoo relaunched the search properties for its U.S.-based sites, including its Yahoo.com flagship home page. Yahoo replaced Google's results with its own Yahoo Search Technology, which combines an array of recently acquired search technologies, such as Inktomi and commercial search provider Overture Services. Yahoo also owns AltaVista and the Web search technology of Fast Search and Transfer.
Despite the publicity fanfare, Yahoo already started using its own search technology this week, as previously reported by CNET News.com.
The Web portal on Monday implemented a Yahoo-branded crawler, or robot, to scour the Web for documents. Called Yahoo Slurp, the robot "collects documents from the Web to build a searchable index for search services using the Yahoo search engine," according to Yahoo. The crawler is also keeping copies of those pages--what's known as "caching" pages.
It also started showing results from its own technology, which includes its paid inclusion program.
Paid inclusion is one of the key ways Yahoo plans to make money from its search platform. Under the program, Yahoo charges companies for more rapid and frequent inclusion in its index. But such programs have come under fire by industry watchers and federal regulators, which charge that their commercially oriented nature can taint results and mislead Web surfers without proper labeling.
Google does not offer a paid inclusion program.
Yahoo also plans to make money from licensing its search technology to third parties. It already has a jump on this business through the acquired contracts of Inktomi, which licenses to MSN in one example, as well as those of Fast Web search and Altavista.
Its third, and most valuable source of revenue will come from Overture's sponsored advertisements, which frame search results on the top, bottom and left-hand side. Overture also licenses its sponsored listings, which advertisers bid for, to third parties, including MSN.
Yahoo will transition the remainder of its international sites to its own technology over the next few weeks.
Industry watchers have criticized Yahoo for its delay in switching from Google technology, given that it bought Inktomi for $280 million in late 2002.
Google executives were not immediately available for comment.
The relaunch is part of Yahoo's overall strategy to regain its former distinction as the Web's dominant search engine. In the late 1990s, Yahoo began stepping away from its search roots to become an aggregator of the Web's chaotic array of content and services. During this period, technology start-up Google emerged from academic roots with intent of delivering faster, more relevant search results.
Yahoo soon became Google's biggest licensing partner, letting the start-up's results appear on all algorithmic search terms. This arrangement, first viewed as a placeholder for Yahoo, eventually gave Google more exposure to Web surfers around the world, helping it become a brand synonymous with search.
It wasn't until the discovery of commercial search that Yahoo began to refocus its attention to the technology. In the early 2000s, Yahoo struck a deal to host commercial search links with Overture, thus beginning a profitable relationship that would eventually account for 20 percent of Yahoo's quarterly revenues. Late last year, Yahoo closed its acquisition with Overture, valued at $1.63 billion when it announced the deal last July.
Yahoo's announcement comes amid Google's bid to be the most comprehensive search engine. On Tuesday, Google said it added more than 1 billion documents to its searchable Web database.
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