It’s official: Yahoo is dumping its own search technology in favor of Microsoft’s Bing. Although searches conducted on Yahoo will still have the company’s branding and interface, for at least the next decade, the results will be based on Bing’s algorithms.
However, this isn’t the first time in Yahoo’s 15 year history that it has ceded its search business to a competitor. From 2000 to 2004, Yahoo search results were powered by a relatively new up-and-comer: Google.
That deal allowed Google to grab enormous marketshare in terms of search volume, even if the search results themselves were showing up on Yahoo’s site. However, when Yahoo dumped Google in favor of its own search technology in 2004, they estimated that they’d instantly have grabbed back better than 50 percent of the search market.
But at that point, consumers had come to so strongly favor Google’s search technology that the battle was already effectively over, and Google went on an unprecedented tear of adding market share month after month, largely at the expense of Yahoo.
Now that Yahoo is once again in the position of having someone else power its search results, what can we expect? For one, their hopes of ever competing again as a search technology provider are gone. It’s now Bing versus Google, with Yahoo providing the scale and advertising support that Microsoft will need to have half a chance.
But it also reminds us that loyalty is a powerful thing in search. When Yahoo flipped the switch to its own search technology back in 2004, they were thinking that most users would stay on Yahoo. But as the next five years would prove, that was anything but the case, as users migrated to Google’s superior search engine and results.
Microsoft and Yahoo have finally done what was envisioned when a $44 billion acquisition was proposed in early 2008: create a viable alternative to Google. History tells us, however, that this will do little more than artificially inflate search marketshare unless that combined the two companies can build a better search engine.
Reviews: Bing, Google, Yahoo!
Tags: bing, Google, microsoft, search engines, Yahoo