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February 26, 2008 6:00 AM
Posted by Benjamin J. Romano
"If you didn't realize it, Yahoo! is embracing openness like never before."
That's how the company put it in a blog post Monday announcing its new open Internet search effort, the Open Search Platform. Of course, last week, Microsoft, which would like to acquire Yahoo, announced that it is also embracing openness like never before. Shows how closely the companies are aligned, right?
Microsoft pledged to open communications protocols and application programming interfaces (APIs) for its biggest products to developers, with a few catches. The company didn't say whether that would extend to its struggling Internet search efforts, but some analysts I talked to saw the broader strategic shift toward openness as a potential boon for Microsoft's online services efforts.
Here's what Yahoo is saying about opening up its Internet search platform:
"This open search platform enables 3rd parties to build and present the next generation of search results. There are a number of layers and capabilities that we have built into the platform, but our intent is clear -- present users with richer, more useful search results so that they can complete their tasks more efficiently and get from 'to do' to 'done.' "
Details were sketchy on the blog post and Yahoo says it will elaborate over "the next few months."
The company wasn't shy about extolling the benefits, however, which will flow to Web site owners, big and small, who will be able to build plug-ins that, once enabled, will present more detailed information -- including reviews, images and deep links -- on Yahoo Search than on the competition. These enhanced results will help generate more traffic and please users with better information, according to the blog post from Vish Makhijani, senior vice president and general manager of Yahoo Search.
Meanwhile, outlets including Search Engine Watch, have more details and analysis:
Yahoo will not feature or promote plug-ins that include advertising, or that are not relevant to users. And publishers will never be able to pay for placement in the gallery or other promotion by Yahoo. "This is not a paid relationship; it's all about relevance," Amit Kumar, director of product management for Yahoo Search, told the Web site.
But will it be enough to help lift the company's market share in Internet search? In January, Yahoo's share declined 0.7 points from December to 22.2 percent of the nearly 10.5 billion Internet searches performed in the U.S. Google remained the leader by a long shot with 58.5 percent. Microsoft held on to third, it's market share unchanged at 9.8 percent.
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Bill Gates, who last week ended his full-time involvement with Microsoft, was often right. He made a career, a company and an industry by looking over the horizon.