Rants, Raves, Reviews

Search is incestuous

By Gary R, in , posted: 17-May-2007 08:41

This is interesting to consider because of the rumoured Yahoo!MSN (or is it MSN!Yahoo) acquisition. Search has such an incestuous past:

A search engine relies on results. Yahoo started out using humans to rank web sites. Yahoo then added web crawler services from Inkomi and paid result placement from Overture. In 2001 Yahoo added Google as another web crawler partner for search even to the extent of showing that results were provided by Google.

In 2003 Yahoo purchased Inktomi and Overture to bring the 'web crawler' and 'paid rank listings' in house, but even after the purchase Yahoo still used Google. In 2004 Yahoo dumped Google in preference of their own technology acquired from Inktomi and Overture.

Now at one time MSN also used Inktomi and Overture even though MSN was a competitor to Yahoo. Probably at that time Google was not seen as a threat to MSN but Yahoo definately was.

Yahoo was the one time king of search and secondarily a portal. Google became king of search and relegated Yahoo to a portal with secondary search. Microsoft is a portal that wants to be big in search. In july 2006 Search Engine Watch ranked the number of US searches as a percentage of market share like this:

Google    43.7%
Yahoo     28.8%
MSN        12.8%

Compare this to February 2007:
Google    48.1%
Yahoo     28.1%
MSN        10.6%

And to think, Google only surpassed Yahoo for search in 2003 and the stats now say it all. Google keeps growing and the other two are going backwards.

Even if Microsoft does acquire Yahoo there is no assurance that 1+1=2. So, adding their relative market shares together does not necessarily mean that Y!MSN will automatically have 38.7% of the search market. It could in fact have the opposite effect of pushing more market share onto Google. In the old days Yahoo was my home page but I soon switched to Google because all I wanted was search. All the Yahoo baggage was too much for dial-up. These days Yahoo would be lucky if I even hit their home page a couple of times a year and I only ever hit MSN when logging out of Xtra mail.

Compare the relative market caps:
MS             USD294b
Google       USD145b
Yahoo        USD41.25b

It makes you wonder how Microsoft and Yahoo got it so wrong when a couple of university students can start Google and beat the both of them.


Other related posts:
I Thought I would Come Back
Unemployment does get boring
Over the 'i'

Permalink to Search is incestuous | Add a comment (1 comment) | Main Index

Comment by inane, on 17-May-2007 09:51

I don't think it was so much about what yahoo and msn did wrong as much as what google did right imho

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