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Yahoo! is likely to buy its way into social networking, and it accepts that Google has won the search game.

Ari Balogh, Yahoo's chief technology officer, told Reuters Global Technology Summit: "I can guarantee you there will be some acquisitions, and we will do some stuff in-house." He said now was a good time to buy because valuations are low.

He did not name specific companies, but said Yahoo! was talking to various firms about partnerships and other deals.

He said that Google had won the search contest: “Search the way we know it, with 10 blue links, Google has clearly won that game. Saying anything other than that is just not stating the fact."

He said looking at a page of search results was an anachronism, put too much onus on the user and was accompanied by extremely ugly advertising.

Yahoo! is also aiming to make many of its other services more Facebooky. The company believes it effectively already has a social networking infrastructure underlying its services and just needs to add the bells and whistles. It is adding more social features, like status updates, to its mail service shortly.

Balogh also said the firm was under-represented in mobile applications, but would release a fantasy sports game for the iPhone this year.

He said Yahoo! had seen a fall in advertising spending, but that marketeers are still interested in new ways to promote their brands online. The company is also hoping that its open API strategy will attract developers to help it better integrate its different services. ®

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