Posted April 29, 2010 10:52 am by with 3 comments

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The fate of Yahoo search as we know it is still in limbo for sure. As the world waits with bated breath for the final look of the Microhoo search engine and the boatloads of opportunities it is supposedly going to afford the world at large, there are still many more questions than answers around the future of Yahoo search. Yahoo is attempting to start to shift the focus a bit by telling the world its new search story.

The SF Chronicle reports

Yahoo Inc. stresses that it’s still in the online search business, but a series of papers and presentations the company is unveiling at a major conference this week underscore how navigating the Web has less to do with the search box and blue links we know so well.

Instead, Internet surfers are increasingly relying on social networks, location-aware smart phone applications and voice or images to steer them to the content they find most relevant and engaging. The direction of Yahoo’s research and business model, as well as broader sector trends, are starting to reflect this changing reality.

Ok. That’s nice. So just what about the model is going to reflect this “ahead of the curve” approach to search? According to this article, nothing specific apparently unless, of course, doing research on how people search counts as actually putting something to work for Yahoo users.

Some of the research coming from Yahoo reveals

One study Yahoo Labs is releasing at the World Wide Web Conference in Raleigh, N.C. – the details of which were provided to The Chronicle in advance – underscores why the sector can’t afford to stand still.

It found that people only spend about one-sixth of their online time performing searches. That compares with half of their time for browsing and one-third for communicating, according to aggregated data pulled from the Yahoo Toolbar, a downloadable browser feature that provides quick links to a user’s favorite content.

Separate data from the Online Publishers Association and Nielsen Online show even wider disparities between these categories. As Yahoo’s paper notes, this means the thing that generates the most money online – search ads – is the thing people spend the least amount of time focused on, at least among the categories analyzed.

OK, so the sector can’t stand still so what is Yahoo gonna do about it? Nothing but crickets can be heard at least in this report. The article talks about voice initiated search and image search where you can take a picture of something with your smartphone and initiate a search but nothing about how Yahoo will make all of this work as it becomes more social and less search focused. Microsoft chimes in with

“Five years out, a majority of all searches will be done on mobile devices, and a majority of those will be done through voice,” predicts Barney Pell, search strategist at Microsoft.

So it looks that while people would love to hear more about how Yahoo plans to survive and possibly thrive moving forward, there is plenty of research being done about what is happening in the market. How that translates into Yahoo’s plans for the future is still a big TBD, at least publicly.

So the question to you readers is what is YOUR vision for how Yahoo will be part of the new world media order of the future? Let’s say you were to give them a grade of 1 to 10 with one being they go out of business and ten being they rule the online space. Where does Yahoo fit?

  • See, I thought they ceded relevance when they signed the pact with Microsoft. Yahoo ~= AOL.

  • Yahoo! believes in social media so much it divested itself of tons of social media resources. Does anyone see a total disconnect here?

  • I didn’t know Yahoo’s search fate was in limbo. I hardly use the site except for Movies and Finance.