Today Yahoo! is releasing a new version of its search tool with many changes. This is significant for a number of reasons:

  • Yahoo! has been in the news lately mostly as Microsoft's take-over target. The make-over provides the company with a news opportunity that's actually about an upgrade to their venerable search product.
  • Secondly up until now Yahoo! has confined its home-page links to internal Yahoo! services. The new version provides a way to link to third party services.
  • Finally they've devised a way to keep you on their site while updating information on your social media tools; a smart move on their part.

Not Just Microsoft's Plaything

Yahoo! is not sitting around like some pathetic loner waiting for someone to call for a date on Saturday night. It continues to be an independent company and this shows it's still viable. Microsoft may have set its sights on Yahoo!, and word is an ad deal could be imminent (as I wrote in Microsoft and Yahoo! Would Be Better Together), but it doesn't mean they are just sitting pat. In fact, that they continue to improve the product makes them even more attractive to a potential suitor at some point, and while I still believe a combined Microsoft and Yahoo! would be the best thing for each company, it doesn't mean that another unknown admirer couldn't be lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce.

Opening Up to Social Media

The new interface which is scheduled to be released this afternoon (see screenshots in this PaidContent Article) features the same links bar on the left side of the screen, but with a new twist. Users can add personal links to this bar (and presumably remove links to Yahoo! services they don't use). So you can link to favorite sites like eBay or Facebook. What's particularly interesting, however is that Yahoo! is providing a way to update Facebook and other social sites directly from Yahoo!. If the strategy works, it means that Yahoo! keeps you on their site and that's a good thing for them.

Of course, users still need to go to Facebook to see what others are up to, but if you find interesting content while searching in Yahoo!, you can share it in your favorite social media tool without leaving Yahoo!

Search Heats Up

With this entry, it means that we now have Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! all vying for your search attention. According to the most recent Comscore search engine market share statistics, which were through June 2009, all three parties held steady from April with Google controllng 65 percent of all searches, Yahoo! 20 percent and Microsoft pulling up the rear with 8 percent. It will be interesting to see the next Comscore quarterly report when we will get a chance to see if Bing and these changes to Yahoo! have had any significant impact on Google's obvious dominance in this space.

Regardless, it shows that Microsoft and Yahoo! won't simply roll over for Google. They will keep trying and see if consumers respond. While Yahoo! appeara to have solidly loyal following, if they want to take it to another level, they have little to lose by taking a chance on change. The question is will anyone notice.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Bing's numbers drop as it's novelty wears off and users realize that the minimalist approach of Google is still more convenient. For those looking for a browser that bombards them with bandwidth sucking info, Yahoo!'s ability to customize the side bar should be appealing.

I agree about Bing. I think the numbers we are seeing are curiosity about a new entry fueled by a very expensive media campaign. I'm not sure that bandwidth matters for most people using a broadband connections (or that Yahoo! is that bad in any event), but I can't wait to see the next round of market share stats and see if anyone's numbers have moved.