Tomorrow's Yahoo! and Google
Both Yahoo! and Google can boast of having mammoth databank of how people use them when looking for information. Putting them to use to wring out true benefits for vast multitude of web surfers is the main challenge. At the moment, Google is considered to be streets ahead. What happens in future only time will tell.
Without doubt, both are working on path-breaking initiatives, but while Yahoo! is apparently talking it out, Google prefers playing its cards close to chest till the last moment before unveiling. Secondly, from search industry’s standpoint, there is marked variation in strategic planning of one from the other. If you look at it closely, it will be apparent that for awhile now, search engines are no longer only about providing search results, though that still remains the mainstay. Armed with treasure-chest of users’ search behavior over vast geographic areas culled for over a decade, it does not appear surprising that for major search engines the priority (for maintaining sustainable growth) will increasingly veer toward coming on board with innovative technology in order to make web-life more informative and useful.
Both Google and Yahoo! have stepped up efforts to redefine people’s priorities on the web, thus in effect moving away from only providing search results. The underlying assumption seems to be that there are many of them doing that, and so there is not much more to gain. Seen in this perspective, it is indeed interesting to study how the 2 giants are working it out for themselves. Let us have a look.
Betting on massive search-data and its evolution over time, Yahoo! Research has set about ferreting out meaningful information that can be useful in charting out future course of growth. In its own words:
“Yahoo! manages many of the largest and richest data repositories in the world, and our researchers mine insights from these giant collections, individually and collectively,..”
That data mining can help in strategizing overall objectives and mapping out growth for future is demonstrative of Yahoo!’s research plans. It is therefore congruent that Yahoo!’s basic research focuses on 3 main fields, namely Data Analytics, Foundations and Search.
The tech buzz game
An interesting offshoot of Yahoo!’s experiments is partnering with O’Reilly Media to design a ‘fantasy design market’, called ‘The Tech Buzz Game’, started in May last year. The program lends you an imaginary booty of $10000, and eggs you on to bid for or against ‘fantasy stocks’ that represent companies engaged in products or technologies which surfers think will be popular (or fade away) in the future. And while you are at it, the popularity or ‘buzz’ of a technology or a concept is constantly worked out in background by Yahoo! search frequency.
Since Yahoo! already possesses a vast amount of elaborative search behavior, the tech buzz game and others of its kind come as novel ideas that should provide vital inputs to enable Yahoo! attain technological breakthroughs in days to come. So, in Yahoo!’s case, the strategy seems to be the traditional ‘design-to-market’ route.
Unlike Yahoo!’s sophisticated programs aimed at unfolding surfers’ behavior patterns, Google has so far quietly let its products do the talk. With a slew of innovative products released in rapid succession, Google has taken everyone by complete surprise. People are awed not only by the sheer number of them, but also by the products’ newness and ease of use. Just check what all Google offers, and you are bound to be impressed.
Recent Google releases, such as Gmail Chat - or for that matter canny tools and features like Google Base, Google Local, Browse By Name - are all unmistakably geared toward spreading Google’s reach far and wide. The newest feather to add to the already-impressive list is Google Page Creator, said to be still in early testing phase.
Watching Google, one is inclined to conclude that while working out strategies for future like Yahoo!, Google evidently thinks it is best to shore up as many ‘followers’ as possible. The idea seems to be ‘do whatever, but never loose sight of core ability’.
Just how serious Google is to strengthen its main money-churner, AdWords, can be gauged when it started offering Urchin free. Urchin, rechristened as ‘Google Analytics’, is a classy web analytics service comparable to the best in the industry. Today AdWords’ popularity is awesome, and so is the stream of related revenue for Google.
For the record, Google Analytics is also available free for all webpages, even without an AdWords account, subject to a maximum of 5 million pageviews per month. This limit does not apply to ‘active’ AdWords accounts. Getting your own Google Analytics is difficult since one has to wait in a queue and this may take several months.
The jury is still out as to who shall eventually hold the torch of most innovations in search arena. Between the two, Google appears to be more successful in correctly reading the needs of market. As a result, it has attained unassailable lead (as of now) over its main rival in both organic and ppc searches. No wonder, Yahoo!’s CFO, Susan Decker admits as much.
The web users of tomorrow will not only communicate live on the net, they will also look for advanced technology to live an easy life off the net. The net will become omnipresent in whatever we do, and a large part of web-activity, apart from fun, entertainment and e-talking, will continue to be looking for right information at right time. It is here that Google and Yahoo! will remain relevant, though the type of service and its way of delivery may be expected to undergo lot of change.
As said before, both Yahoo! and Google can boast of having mammoth databank of how people use them when looking for information. Putting them to use to wring out true benefits for vast multitude of web surfers is the main challenge. At the moment, Google is considered to be streets ahead. What happens in future only time will tell.
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