With the launch of Bing this week, as well as the recent introductions of Wolfram Alpha and Zuula, I thought I’d share my tips for how I kick the tires on a new search engine to see how good it is.
1. Type in your own name.
You know who you are, so see how much the search engine knows about you. Unless you have a very common name, even a mediocre search engine should return your facebook page somewhere on the first page or two.
2. Search for Viagra.
Really. Do a search on Viagra. If a search engine wants to be good it has to know how to handle spam, and there is TONS of spam for Viagra. Everyone hates spammy search results, so this is something new engines must have solved before they open to the public. If you don’t see legit medical and product information for Viagra, then they haven’t figured out how to handle spam.
3. Do a search on Barack Obama.
Next to relevancy, engines must be able to return fresh results. A search on the President should have a decent number of results that are no more than 2 days old.
If a new search engine gets good marks on all three of those tests, then they have spent time and effort developing a worthwhile, sophisticated backbone.
Yahoo emailed users of their Yahoo Mail system today to endorse the new Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 with encouragement to download and install the new browser.
This makes no sense for Yahoo. Why would Yahoo suggest to users to use IE over Firefox?
But, Yahoo offers web-based software to millions of users across the globe. Why would they care or endorse one over the other? Simple, Yahoo trying to warm up to Microsoft again. And this is an easy way to project less hostility toward Redmond.
Yahoo and Microsoft are yesterday’s brands and they are seeing tons of innovation happening online, in mobile, and with desktops apps that they have influence on. Those two fighting each others is no more helpful their careers than seeing two former — aging and overweight — championship boxers go toe-to-toe in the ring. It’s fun to watch for five minute, but more to stoke the conversation about what they used to be, not what they are right now.
Yesterday Steve Ballmer told the Financial Times that now is a great time to strike a deal with Yahoo. Citing that both companies are going through a transition — Microsoft appointing someone to run their online business and yahoo searching for a new CEO — making it a good time to tie the knot.
“We now have someone in place running our online business, and Yahoo’s out looking for a CEO,” Ballmer said. “If a search deal is to be made, it’s probably to be made in the interim period for new leaders in both places.”
I like Yahoo, which is why I keep hoping there is a way they can be relevant again without Microsoft. It's kinda like when you see a really cute girl dating a thug — you wonder why. Yahoo is a cute girl and I think they deserve better than Microsoft.
Yahoo has tried to save themselves a few times and they keep failing. Frankly, there is no one out there big enough for the undertaking of saving Yahoo. Microsoft might be their only real hope.
Anyone following the "Will Microsoft ask Yahoo to get married" drama are already familiar with Carl Icahn, who started a school yard proxy fight over the future of Yahoo.
Today, Yahoo posted an open letter to Carl Icahn:
Yahoo!’s Board of Directors continues to stand ready to enter into
negotiations with Microsoft Corporation for an acquisition of Yahoo!.
Indeed, as recently as June, Yahoo!’s independent directors and
management approached Steve Ballmer
about just such a transaction, only to be told that Microsoft was no
longer interested even in the price range which they had previously
proposed. Now Mr. Ballmer and Mr. Icahn have teamed up in an apparent
effort to force Yahoo! into selling to Microsoft its Search business at
a price to be determined in a future "negotiation" between Mr. Icahn’s
directors and Microsoft’s management. We feel very strongly that this
would not lead to an outcome that would be in the best interests of
Yahoo!’s stockholders. If Microsoft and Mr. Ballmer really want to
purchase Yahoo!, we again invite them to make a proposal immediately.
And if Mr. Icahn has an actual plan for Yahoo! beyond hoping that
Microsoft might actually consummate a deal which they have repeatedly
walked away from, we would be very interested in hearing it.
I believe that is Yahoo telling Mr. Icahn where he can stick it. While this type of bickering usually weakens a company in the long run, I think it’s actually good for Yahoo. The big Y has been stagnant for too long, and this may be what finally gets the passion back for them.