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Google in lead as search wars hot up

I'll be back, says Inktomi...

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Reliance on search engines is increasing and will continue to do so, so it is not surprising that there are shake-outs from time to time. The latest changes have affected Inktomi, Euroseek and Google.

Stockholm-based Euroseek agreed yesterday to supply MSN and IE with its search engine for the Nordic region, and the company has a separate cooperation agreement for its inclusion in the US IE search engine for finding Web pages. Other partners are AOL NetFind, Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, Yahoo, Alta Vista and HotBot.

Google, a significant absentee from the Microsoft stable, has clinched a deal with Yahoo and edged out Inktomi. This proved to be of more importance to investors than to users so far, since although the Yahoo revenue only makes up some two per cent of Inktomi's income, the shares dived more than 10 per cent on the news. Shareholders evidently did not take into account that Inktomi was given a new contract by Yahoo for the Corporate Yahoo service, which makes it possible to search corporate information and the Web at the same time.

Inktomi's CEO said that he intended to win back the lost Yahoo business, just as had happened when the company lost the MSN portal business to Alta Vista, although this took six months.

Google's search engine will be installed on Yahoo in the next 30 days, but it will not replace Yahoo's Web directory and navigational guide. It remains to be seen whether the demand for the considerable raw processing power needed to run Google results in the slowing down of Yahoo, although at present www.google.com is fast to use.

Google has also announced that it has released the world's largest search engine, with an index of more than a billion URLs in 10 western languages. The ability to search using diacriticals in non-English words is important for relevancy, so search engine developers are paying particular attention to this.

Google has been charging ahead, having snapped up Netscape and the Washington Post as customers, and powering 76 portals and destination sites in 20 countries. Google's innovative tricks are explained on its Web site, and it does seem to have the edge at the moment so far as the comprehensiveness of searching is concerned. The downside is that it is not possible to use logical operators (often called Boolean operators, which would make poor George Boole turn over in his east London grave) and other search limiters, but further developments are promised. ®

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