Yahoo! announces last hurrah of ancient AltaVista search

Web pioneer to go dark in summer product purge

AltaVista screen shot 1996

Fans of the venerable AltaVista search engine – whomever they might be – have just a little over a week to comb the web like it's 1996, because Yahoo! will soon shut down the service along with 11 other unloved offerings.

Seemingly taking a page from rival Google, which regularly mothballs batches of its less successful products, Yahoo! on Friday announced that it is retiring a selection of older services, tools, and APIs.

Among them is AltaVista, now slated to go dark on July 8. You can be forgiven for thinking it died a long time ago, but Yahoo! has actually been operating it since acquiring its former parent, search-marketing firm Overture Services, in 2003 – though of late its search results have been identical to Yahoo!'s.

AltaVista won't be the first to go, though. Three Yahoo! products are dead effective immediately, including the Yahoo! Axis and Yahoo! BrowserPlus plug-ins and the Citizen Sports portal, which Yahoo! acquired in 2010.

Yahoo! WebPlayer, the company's homegrown embeddable web media player, will kick the bucket on June 30, followed by the FoxyTunes browser extension and Yahoo! RSS Alerts on July 1.

(Incidentally, if you're starting to get the impression that most of the products that have been scheduled for termination are rather obscure or were half-retired already, you're right. In terms of popularity, most of them make AltaVista look like Google. Actually, scratch that – they make AltaVista look like Yahoo!)

Joining AltaVista on the chopping block on July 8 will be Yahoo! Neighbors, a message-board system for local communities that never made it out of beta.

Next, the lights will go out at Yahoo! Stars India on July 25, having been made redundant by Yahoo! India OMG!

On July 31, Yahoo! Downloads will cease to be a portal for all manner of open source, freeware, and shareware downloads, though the site will still exist as a source for Yahoo!'s own software products, such as the Yahoo! Toolbar or Yahoo! Messenger.

And finally, on September 28 Yahoo! plans to retire the Yahoo! Local API and the Yahoo! Term Extraction API, two interfaces that web developers could use to extract data from Yahoo!'s services. We suspect few will mourn.

Friday's move is the third such cull of products and services at Yahoo!, following two more mass extinction events that took place in March and April.

In his blog post announcing the shutdowns, Yahoo! executive VP of platforms Jay Rossiter didn't say whether the company has still more closures in the offing or when they might occur, saying only that the company is paring down its offerings "so we can continue to focus on creating beautiful products that are essential to you every day." ®

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