Thursday, March 31, 2011

Yahoo! takes on Google, social networking sites

Hyderabad, : Once a favourite with Indian Internet users, who later shifted loyalties, Yahoo! seems to be in a reload phase to win back the lost ground and take competition from Google and social networking sites head on.

The mail, search and news portal has lined up Search Direct for release in the second half of this year. The service, which targets Google's prompt-based search, will provide answers based on the user needs.

“Users do not come to a search engine with just search strings. They expect some useful information. For one, if you type Spiderman, you may specifically be looking for reviews on the film, film tickets, pictures or news,” Mr Prabhakar Raghavan, Chief Scientist and Senior Vice-President and Head of Yahoo! Labs, said.

Like in Google search, one will get prompts. But the similarity ends there. “You will get answers as categories as you begin to key in the search string. You can directly go to the category,” he said.

Mr Prabhakar, who was here to take part in the 20th World Wide Web Conference, said Yahoo! registered 30 million users a month in India and 74 per cent of all the net users in the country. With the user base growing, the company is planning to replicate a survey it conducted in the US to measure effectiveness (of Web content, including advertisements).

The company, which claims it registers 100 crore clicks every day in its homepage in India, said its Content Optimisation tool would allow users to see content based on their preferences.

The hybrid model picks trends based on the patterns in ‘clicks' and gives editors tools to pick relevant content.

The tool, which at present is offered to English users, would be expanded soon to its regional content, which was not so dynamic.

On Yahoo! facing competition not just from Google or MSN but also from social networking sites, he said the company is working on a Status message option to allow users to collaborate in smaller groups.

By picking threads from the message sharing pattern, users can talk on a one-to-a-few basis as against one-to-many in social networking sites.

Mr Prabhakar said the Internet should be open and any efforts to stack on the basis of Operating Systems and exclusive applications could defeat the spirit of the Web that was built on openness.

Of its total workforce of 14,000 globally, Yahoo! has 2,000 employees at its R&D facility in Bangalore.


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