Yesterday we ran a story about remarks made by Yahoo!’s VP of Front Doors, Tapan Bhat, at the Next Web conference in Amsterdam. Bhat said that the dominant web paradigm was shifting from search to personalization. “The future of the web is about personalization,” he said. “It’s about weaving the web together in a way that is smart and personalized for the user.”
Some analysts and reporters saw this as an admission of defeat by Yahoo! and the Times Online article which we quoted from ran under the headline: “Search is history, says Yahoo!.” But, Yahoo! says that the Times reporter was a bit overzealous. They released the following statement to us to clarify Bhat’s remarks:
“Web Search is a top priority for Yahoo! and we are committed to developing and investing in new technologies that will shape the future of search. We believe personalization tools complement our efforts in search and will play an important role in delivering the most relevant information to help consumers get a more complete answer and connect them to their passions, their communities and the worldÄôs knowledge.”
Our original post on this topic yesterday generated a lot of comments, mostly from people saying search will always be the dominant paradigm on the web and Yahoo! would be nuts to think otherwise (though some people agreed that personalization will play an ever increasing role in the battle for user attention). I’m going to reprint a comment that I made on the original post, which sums up my personal view of this issue.
“I don’t think search is ever going to disappear, but I can see what Yahoo! and Google are both talking about when they say that personalizing your user experience is the next dominant paradigm on the web,” I wrote yesterday. “It’s no longer enough to go online and search for specific information, it’s about getting specific information from trusted sources delivered to you (RSS, etc.), having new information you’re interested in delivered to you (StumbleUpon, MyYahoo/Netvibes, etc.), having your email, banking, stock portfolio, address book, and other personal info all at your fingertips.”
We mentioned yesterday that social networks like Facebook and MySpace, with their intimate user knowledge, and widget ecosystems that keep users on site, might be in a very good position to dominate a personalized web. Yahoo!, which owns some of the most popular content sites on the web (News, Sports, MyYahoo), is also seemingly well poised to take advantage of better personalization and command more user attention.
What do you think? Can a more personalized user experience help propel Yahoo! or some other site ahead of Google?