Yahoo BOSSes Its Way Into Long Tail of Search

10 07 2008

I could have almost missed this: Yahoo has announced Yahoo! Search BOSS (Build your own search service) as also reported by GigaOM and TechCrunch. You can access Yahoo! search results via API or framework, mashing up Yahoo’s index, and ranking and relevance, with your own algorithmic take on search. Not much concrete is being commented, possibly because there’s not much to be said. Om Malik has has reservations, but is interested in seeing what comes of it.

Broadly, it is one of the neater applications of open strategy and web service. For Yahoo, it’s smart indeed just like SearchMonkey was the neat and smart first part of its open strategy.

It is hard, or maybe impossible, to tell what will come of the strategy. It still hinges on someone to create a better secret sauce of smart algorithms, data mining, machine learning, artificial intelligence and all the cornerstones of CS intelligence. And it must be done: it’s a hedge to give Yahoo a better shot at possibly acquiring or partnering with the big bang company that somehow does search better than Google. But all the infrastructure savings doesn’t presume that a better algorithm will emerge.

So I do applaud Yahoo for going down the long tail of search with BOSS. Yet Farecast, Kayak and Sidestep, Oodle, Vast, SimplyHired, NexTag, Shopping.com and many more “vertical search” aggregators ofttimes rich in metadata dominate the fat middle (fat belly?)– and I bet they will continue to do so.

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