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A rare bit of good news for Yahoo!: "For the first time ever" - i.e. for the first time in five years - the beleaguered web portal has topped arch-rival Google on a much-discussed customer satisfaction survey sponsored by the University of Michigan.

With the University's new report on search engines and portals, culled from its annual American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey, Yahoo!'s customer satisfaction score jumped 3.9 per cent, while Google's took a 3.7 per cent plunge. That puts Yahoo! at the top of the ACSI rankings, with a score of 79 (out of 100), with Google just behind at 78. Frankly, we find this very hard to believe.

"Since the ACSI has long been proven scientifically to be a leading indicator of growth and stock prices, a rising ACSI score indicates that Yahoo!'s fortunes may again be on the rise, even as it suffers a beating in the financial press," wrote Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results, the sponsor of the ACSI report.

Freed believes that Yahoo! may have already lost the search battle - and we agree - but he's sure the company can still come out ahead in the war of the portals. "The question for Yahoo! becomes whether it can secure enough dominance as a portal to increase ad dollars and profitability. Customers seem to be saying 'yes,' and brand new CEO Jerry Yang can move forward with a strong base of customer satisfaction."

Meanwhile, Ask.com boasts the biggest improvement on this year's survey, jumping 5.6 per cent to a score of 75. Pointing to the site's new Ask3D relaunch, Freer says that Google "should be scared" of the plucky search engine. "Ask.com seems to be well-positioned to rival Google in the coming years because it has a strong search technology lauded by analysts and users alike," he said. Sorry, Larry. We don't agree on this one.

Bootnote

There seems to be some disagreement about Yahoo! headlines at The Reg. So we're running a customer satisfaction survey of our own: Exclamation marks or no exclamation marks? Please let us know. ®

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