Yahoo! praying competitors grow?

We all know history shows us nothing lasts. The Roman Empire, the Warsaw Pact, the telegram, the Two Ronnies… whatever. You name it and time will show itself to have moved swiftly on. Google had another record month in June performing 7.1 billion searches, but I predict, with a prize-fighter’s confidence, that Google cannot remain the de facto search engine. There, easily said wasn’t it.

Perhaps it’ll be a hostile take over or a merger. Perhaps implosion (though a lack of funds seems very unlikely today). Perhaps huge customer revolt over privacy issues or ‘evil’ infringements. Whatever, but the inventor of the mass-market car couldn’t create a lasting success of things and history will show Sergey and Larry to be no different. However, the guys at Yahoo! aren’t waiting for me to be proven right in 2090. They know they can’t beat Google at their own game so a month ago they started letting others do it for them. Well, that’s one of their strategies to stop the game, set and match scenario they’re staring at today. They’re opening up their search to allow developers to code the final pieces, thus avoiding all the colossal development costs. The Yahoo! blog says:

“our goal with BOSS is to remove as many of the barriers as possible to creating new search products. By providing deep access to Yahoo! Search’s investment in engineering, sciences and core search infrastructure and removing key usage restrictions, we are encouraging a whole new level of innovation in search experiences.”

The more the merrier, eh? Kind of like getting all your friends to help you stand up to the bully in school, but it appears a viable strategy as long as several really do something different from Yahoo! and gain critical mass. I suspect the promotion techniques to come will be far more interesting than the resulting algorithms.

Then there’s Cuil, surely the first of many serious search contenders to come. Serious because its frontline folks are ex-Google, but also serious because it promises different results, not Google regurgitations. They’ve indexed three times more pages than any other engine but “stay on that page and analyze the rest of its content, its concepts, their inter-relationships and the page’s coherency”. Many Google critics cite their heavy reliance on linking as relatively easy to spam (or ‘game’ as it’s known). In a nutshell, Cuil is promising to favour authority over popularity. What will the others promise and will they nibble away enough at Google to actually hurt that dominance? Could it be a death by a thousand engines…?

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