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The death of AltaVista and AlltheWeb

Source: Pandia.com

 

Yahoo! will end the development of the AltaVista and AlltheWeb search engines, but will keep the sites.

Yahoo! did need a search engine. Yahoo! had found that searchers preferred regular search engine results to hand picked directory listings. Regular search results at the Yahoo! site was therefore delivered by Google. As a long term strategy it does not make sense to rely on your main competitor in this way.

Yahoo! clearly needed an alternative, and bought the three search engines. However, the costs would be enormous to keep three different development teams developing three different search engines and it would make more sense to try to merge the competences acquired, even if there were cultural differences and geographical distances (The AlltheWeb team is in Norway).

Overture had already started integrating the development teams of old timer AltaVista and the Norwegian AlltheWeb search engine. It is now clear that Yahoo! decided to go one step further, and replace the old search engines with a brand new one: the Yahoo! search engine. In February Yahoo! replaced Google with the new search engine at their own Yahoo! portal. The new search engine showed great similarities with the old Inktomi search engine, as many of the listings where the same.

The search engine algorithm -- i.e. the process that decide the order of search results -- was new, however, and the fact that Yahoo! sent out a new search engine robot crawling the Net for sites and pages proved that Yahoo! was indeed building a new search engine.

Yahoo! had been criticized for sticking to Google for too long. It now, appears that they had been biding their time, testing the new search technology. It would have been suicide for Yahoo! to launch a search service that did not deliver the quality their users have come to expect. Google has proved, once and for all, that the quality and relevance of search results is essential for success in this market.

So what will happen to the old search engines? We have had our doubts about the quality of the Inktomi search engine. By all means, it could deliver decent results, but has been plagued by spam and irrelevant listings. AltaVista, once the king of the hill, continues to deliver good results, even if the database is a bit small. AlltheWeb, on the other hand, has proved itself worthy as Google's match, both as regards relevance and scope.

It is therefore with a certain sadness we have to announce that the AltaVista and AlltheWeb search engines are going to die. In the near future Yahoo! will replace these unique search engines with data from the new Yahoo! search engine.

Yahoo! will keep the two sites as experimental portals. Hence there will be differences as regards the support for advanced searching etc. But the core technology will be new. The Inktomi search engine never had its own portal. It now delivers data to sites like MSN and HotBot. Whether it also will be replaced by Yahoo! search is unclear at the moment, but most likely.

Was this really necessary? Did Yahoo! need three search engines in order to develop a new one?

Probably not. We guess the original plan was to develop Inktomi into the new "Google killer". Yahoo! soon realized, however, that they also needed a third service, in addition to the old Yahoo! directory and the new Yahoo! search engine -- a service that could bring in real money.

They therefore bought Overture, the most important pay-per-click text ad search engine in the world. As an added bonus they got AlltheWeb and AltaVista and a lot of clever search programmers and marketers.

By doing so, they also stopped MSN from buying these technologies, thus forcing Bill Gates & Co. to develop a brand new search engine from scratch.

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MAR. 03,  ISSUE #004

 

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