Posted January 8, 2010 1:59 pm by with 4 comments

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And I don’t mean job security for Carol Bartz. Yahoo’s BOSS (Build your Own Search Service) is a popular, free way for developers to access the Yahoo index and to implement Yahoo search for your site. With the pending Microsoft-Yahoo deal outsourcing the search business, there has been some concern over whether BOSS will be discontinued.

Never fear, says Yahoo—BOSS is sticking around. Like the main search results, the BOSS results are slated to use Bing’s index as well. But the bad news is that BOSS may not continue to be a free offering. Ashim Chimbra addressed developers’ concerns in the Yahoo Tech Group and alluded to possible pay structures in the future (emphasis added):

Under this agreement, Yahoo! is permitted to continue offering the BOSS web service, with search results that would integrate Yahoo! services and content with algorithmic results provided by Microsoft. As always, our intention is to provide a BOSS offering as long as it makes business and economic sense to do so. We are still examining what the BOSS offering will consist of, with some services powered by Microsoft, unique content that Yahoo! currently provides, and the potential for additional Yahoo! content in the future.

Prior to the announcement of the Yahoo!-Microsoft search agreement, we’d already shared our intention to explore a fee-based structure for BOSS. We continue to explore an appropriate fee structure or other revenue model as we work through the future of BOSS.

As you know, we must receive regulatory clearance before actual implementation of the search deal with Microsoft can occur. Only then can we finalize the future shape of BOSS. Of course, we will provide additional clarity and certainty when we can.

So clearly, they’re keeping their options open for pricing. What do you think? Will they be able to keep it free, or is the deal with Microsoft underlying evidence of the need for revenue?