Is Yahoo Search Doomed To Disappear?

Is Yahoo search doomed to fade and disappear the way Alta Vista the done in the last decade? That is the question being pondered by PC World’s Jeff Bertolucci in a recent article. It was announced recently that the Microsoft and Yahoo search partnership will finally be completed, with Microsoft’s Bing engine powering Yahoo search.

But Bertolucci says its unclear how Yahoo plans to add any value to its search with this deal, and this efforts to contact the company have gone unanswered. He writes:

Yahoo Search Is Fading

Alta Vista’s sad story makes me wonder if Yahoo is following a similar path to oblivion. There’s no denying the fact that Yahoo’s share of the search engine pie has been shrinking for years. According to research firm comScore, Yahoo had just under 23 percent of U.S. searches in December 2007. By January 2010, Yahoo’s share had tumbled to 17 percent.

So will the Bing deal help Yahoo regain that lost share? I don’t see how it could. Microsoft is the innovator here, the aggressor with the clever search engine that’s gaining market share — albeit slowly and at significant expense to Redmond. (The January 2010 comScore data shows Bing with 11.3 percent of the U.S. market, up about a half-point from December.)

Yahoo thus far has provided only the vaguest of examples of how it’ll lure back search users, many of whom have moved on to Google or Bing. To be fair, the Microsoft-Yahoo deal is very new, and the back-end integration probably won’t happen before the end of the year. However, if Yahoo has some cool search tricks up its sleeve, now’s the time to let us know.

Home Page Clutter

Certainly, the reasons behind the fall of Yahoo Search are many and complex. Here’s a simple one that may not register with executives, analysts, and pundits, but one that I believe has a visceral impact on average users.

Simply put, the Yahoo home page is too busy, messy, and uninviting. Its search window, though prominent at the top of the page, vanishes among the onslaught of news, photos, ads, and celebrity noise. Yahoo is more like AOL — hardly a raging success itself — in that regard. Bing and Google, by comparison, are clean and inviting. Here, see for yourself:

Yahoo’s search screen

AOL’s search screen

Google’s search screen (customized for the 2010 Winter Olympics)

Bing Search Screen (also featuring the Olympics)

Now, where would you rather search?

Source: PC World.

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