Do you remember the early days of mass internet? Using search engines such as Ask, Lycos, Excite, Yahoo, Netscape and Alta Vista? The excitement of a whole new world through your computer?
Of these, Yahoo took the early lead and became the largest search engine in the world. They did not hold this title for long though. Google took just two years from being incorporated in 1998 to becoming the most popular search engine.
Today, Yahoo is no longer a search engine in the UK. Bing now powers all Yahoo UK search results. The transition has already taken place in the US, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, New Zealand, Peru and Venezuela. By the end of 2012, Bing will power all of Yahoo’s searches.
Google trounced Yahoo by offering speed. They appreciated the need for sites to load quickly for end users and set up a system to do this. Alongside the speed, they were also able to deliver good results. There were a few early hiccups with irrelevant results publicly ousted but by this time they had already won over the majority.
By the year 2000, the use of “Google it” rather than “search for it” was already commonplace – a sign that Google had become synonymous with search; something Yahoo had never been able to achieve.
It is a sobering story that illustrates just how easy it is to be knocked off the top.
Yahoo has not gone though; it is still a huge company. Visits to Google sites did not overtake visits to Yahoo’s until 2006 – much more recently than I expected.
Yahoo is now focused on content production and optimisation. Carol Betz at their annual shareholder meeting last month confirmed they would prioritise “news, sports, and finance, globally.”
So far they are doing well with this and, in spite of the loss of their search side, are still a huge company recognised across the world.
While I have not used Yahoo search for a long time, I do feel a tinge of sadness at seeing it stop. They were a company that formed my early internet experiences: confusing and slow, but new and exciting.
Now the question is will Bing do the same to Google?