Tomorrow, 2 March 2005, marks the 10-year anniversary of Yahoo. According to a recent AP article:
"Yahoo already has amassed an audience of 345 million, including 165 million registered users who rely on the company's Web sites for e-mail, e-commerce, news, entertainment, driving directions, matchmaking, weather forecasts, job leads and search results.
The company believes it can become an even more vital information and entertainment hub as wireless and broadband technology changes how people interact with media..."
Yahoo is mostly a new media company and their entertainment hub strategy is essentially an extension of their portal strategy - which was so successful during the 90's.
Enter Search Web Services
Now, almost exactly on the 10-year anniversary, Yahoo is inviting web developers to build external applications that use Yahoo's search data via APIs and Web Services. Yes, external - outside the portal.
This is of course a move that brings them up-to-date with their main search competition, Google, which has had Web Services for a couple of years now. But it's significant also because it marks probably the final stage of Yahoo's transformation from a Web 1.0 to a Web 2.0 company. Their introduction of RSS feeds last year was one of the first indications that this was happening.
In Web 1.0, Yahoo built a 'place' on the Web that attracted millions of users. It was arguably the most popular place on the Web. In Web 2.0, content is increasingly being freed from its containers. Yahoo has recognized that trend by allowing its search data to be used outside its own web portal. With the new Yahoo web services, people can use Yahoo's search data on their own websites - or in RSS feeds, or who knows where else. Yahoo data can also now be remixed to a degree (in accordance with the restrictions on the APIs).
It'll be interesting to see how this ties in with their media strategy. Yahoo still wants to drive people to its "hub" to view and interact with their entertainment and information media. Perhaps their thinking is that the search web services will help brand Yahoo even more, because people will be building Yahoo-branded applications all over the Web (or so Yahoo hopes).
This theory is backed up by their description of the new web services on their blog:
"Yahoo! Search Web Services allow you to access Yahoo content and services in your
favorite programming languages. This means you can now build Yahoo directly into your
The more external sites Yahoo can get their content and brand onto, the more recognized and used their brand becomes in media circles - and therefore the more eyeballs they can drive to their Internet entertainment hub.
That isn't to discount the angle being touted in the first lot of publicity - i.e. Yahoo is hoping developers will create new and wonderful applications using their data. That is important too, it's just that I think Yahoo is probably more interested in how the Web Services will help drive their 'media hub' strategy.
This is my early guess anyway - based on a couple of hours browsing tonight. What do you think is Yahoo's strategy with their Search Web Services? I'm sure it's more than what I've outlined above, so feel free to leave a comment.