Forget the 20,000+ employees that help Google grow its market share every day. Yahoo just signed on 6,602,224,175 volunteers to help it grow its share of the search space!
6,602,224,175? A pretty impressive number, huh? That’s the current estimated population of the world, and Yahoo has just made each and every one of us an honorary Yahooligan, with the launch of its Build your Own Search Service–aka BOSS.
BOSS is a new, open platform that offers programmatic access to the entire Yahoo! Search index via an API. BOSS allows developers to take advantage of Yahoo!’s production search infrastructure and technology, combine that with their own unique assets, and create their own search experiences. While search APIs have been available for some time, BOSS removes many of the usage restrictions that have prevented other companies from using them to build innovative new search engines.
In other words, Yahoo has embraced an initiative I evangelize a lot in my work: when your customers are openly invited to help build your brand, they take ownership of it. What does that mean? Think about it. If you’ve built your own search tool–thanks to Yahoo’s infrastructure–wouldn’t you want to make Yahoo better? Wouldn’t you eagerly provide feedback, fix bugs, tell your friends how great Yahoo is, and, think twice before using Google?
If Yahoo’s BOSS takes-off, it could build market share from brand investment alone!
Add to that the increased audience reach, improvements, and revenue Yahoo will realize from BOSS.
For BOSS, we see a virtuous circle in which partners deliver innovative search experiences, and as they grow their audiences and usage we have more data that can be used to improve our own Yahoo! Search experience and as a result, improve the quality of results our BOSS partners and their users get. Second, we do see new revenue streams from BOSS. In the coming months, we’ll be launching a monetization platform for BOSS that will enable Yahoo! to expand its ad network and enable BOSS partners to jointly participate in the compelling economics of search.
So, what? You say. Google has APIs and doesn’t it allow you to build a custom search? Yes, but not to the extent that BOSS does. Here’s what BOSS offers:
- Ability to re-rank and blend results — BOSS partners can re-rank search results as they see fit and blend Yahoo!’s results with proprietary and other web content in a single search experience
- Total flexibility on presentation — Freedom to present search results using any user interface paradigm, without Yahoo! branding or attribution requirements
- BOSS Mashup Framework — We’re releasing a Python library and UI templates that allow developers to easily mashup BOSS search results with other public data sources
- Web, news and image search — At launch, developers will have access to web, news and image search and we’ll be adding more verticals soon
- Unlimited queries — There are no rate limits on the number of queries per day
According to Yahoo, companies are already taking advantage of BOSS:
- Me.dium, a start-up that’s built an innovative collaborative browsing product used BOSS to build a web-scale search engine that leverages its real-time surfing data.
- Hakia, a semantic search start-up, is using BOSS to access the Yahoo! Search index and dramatically increase the speed with which it can semantically analyze the web.
- Daylife To-Go is a new self-service, hosted publishing platform from Daylife. Anyone can use this platform to generate customizable pages and widgets.
- Cluuz, a next-generation search engine prototype, generates easier-to-understand search results through semantic cluster graphs, image extraction and tag clouds.
It’s hard to discuss Yahoo these days, without mentioning acquisition/merger talks. The only hurdle that Yahoo’s BOSS faces is that the company will likely get acquired, before it has a chance to make an impact on the bottom line.