The standard way I tend to view the search world is that Google offers free products, other people expect you to pay for them. This is, of course, a vast over-generalization. After all, Yahoo! does in fact offer any number of free services, from Yahoo! Groups to Yahoo! Answers, and Google offers (or has offered) any number of paid services – such as Google Answers (now deceased) and Enterprise Search.
So, the fact that IBM and Yahoo! are teaming up on a free enterprise search product suggests that they want to put a bit of pressure on Google. And why wouldn’t they? Google’s stock prices just keep going up despite relatively modest increases in their earnings (and certainly not comparable to their total stock value), so why not try and force them out of one of their key corporate markets?
Granted, it’s debatable exactly how much impact this might have. Google’s revenue is largely focused on their search advertising, after all!
This seems like a clear attempt to budge Google out of one of their markets, however – and may be the kind of thing that Yahoo! needs to be doing in order to continue to compete.
The IBM and Yahoo! product, Omnifind, is available for free. You can also read more about it at SEO Principle or Search Engine Land (linked above.)
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