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Will Google Defend its Yahoo Turf?

By Andrew Goodman, 6/24/2002

Google's search partnership with Yahoo is coming up for renewal. Recall that
Google extended its reach significantly and gained credibility when it was
chosen to provide search infrastructure for Yahoo, replacing Inktomi, which had
previously replaced AltaVista. Yahoo has never used in-house technology to
offer "web index" results, but of course has many navigational offerings of its
own such as the human-edited Yahoo Directory, Full Coverage news,
etc. Some speculate that Google is increasingly becoming a competitor to
the major portals, so Yahoo would be reluctant to fuel Google's growth
any further. But Google's recent inking of a search and advertising
partnership with AOL seems to indicate that that line of thinking is
exaggerated.


Here's my quick and dirty attempt to handicap the "who will Yahoo choose as
its search partner?" race. For entertainment purposes only. Void where
prohibited by law.


Yahoo stays with Google ---> This is the prohibitive odds-on
favorite. Yahoo can develop new, innovative revenue-generating variations in
concert with the industry leader; yes, a renewal fuels a competitor of sorts,
but bottom lines are bottom lines and staying with Google offers the best short
and medium term outcome for Yahoo, which needs to worry about its stock price
and its consumer image.

Inktomi ---> 4 to 1. No real reason for
Yahoo not to do it other than wanting to stay with status quo & the
leader. Inktomi has
a high quality, customizable search index,
experience in the space, and is hungry for business since the loss of its
partnership with AOL.

FAST Search ---> 8 to 1. A strong
contender, but it probably won't happen in part because the company's roots are
in Europe and its North American operations are in the Boston area,
whereas others are more firmly entrenched in Silicon
Valley. Inktomi may be more motivated to pitch Yahoo, and Inktomi has a
more mature paid-inclusion offering. On July 1, Lycos is launching what it calls
Lycos Search 6.0 (powered by a newly beefed up FAST Search), so FAST seems to be
a continuing presence in the space with one major global
portal partner, Terra Lycos, clearly happy with its
offerings.

AltaVista ----> 12 to 1. Nostalgia buffs would love it.
Enterprise division could be a good hedge; this dark
horse may someday
surprise but is a more likely fire-sale acquisition for a Yahoo than a consumer
search partner, but who knows. Incidentally, AltaVista plans to roll
out a new (and discount-priced) version of its Express Submit option in
July. Details to come.

Teoma / Ask Jeeves ----> 20 to 1.
Teoma is coming on strong, but Not Yet Ready for Prime Time Partnerships. For
the foreseeable future, Ask Jeeves looks to be an attractive acquisition target,
so one way or another they're poised to make some noise for the remainder of the
year.


All Overture, All the Time ----> 350 to 1. After Disney pulled the
plug on it, the going-going-gone Go.com went to 100% sponsored search
listings via a partnership with Overture. Yahoo won't do this for the simple
reason that everyone would laugh at them, point fingers, and compare them to
Go.com. No short-term revenue goal can be worth being relegated to the Internet
Hall of Shame by an increasingly savvy
public.

Metasearch roaring across the finish line out of
nowhwere (eg. Infospace's new Excite Metasearch) ----> 400 to
1.

In-house product developed in secret underground lab, or by a
sneaky old company like IBM ----> 500 to 1.


Microsoft technology ----> 1 billion to 1.


With all those fun things to speculate on, won't it be disappointing when
they just renew with Google? :)

Andrew Goodman is Editor-at-Large of Traffick.com and the author of "Winning Results with Google Adwords". 

 

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