The agreement calls for Inktomi to provide its technology for Web searches that extend beyond Snap's directory. (Snap is owned by CNET: The Computer Network, which publishes NEWS.COM.) San Mateo, California-based Inktomi replaces search firm Infoseek as Snap's exclusive search provider.
The terms of the three-year agreement require Snap to pay Inktomi on a per-query basis, said CNET spokeswoman Karen Wood. In return, Snap will receive advertising revenue by delivering ad banners on each query page, she added.
Wood also hinted there would be further cooperation between the two companies in the future, as well as more integration of Inktomi technology into Snap.
"I see this as an incremental improvement to [Snap's] service," said Derek Brown, an analyst at Volpe Brown Whelan.
Nonetheless, Brown also noted that Snap needs more than a comprehensive search engine to remain competitive with industry leaders such as Yahoo.
"To be competitive, [a gateway to the Net, or "portal"] must offer a suite of communications services including email, chat, and instant messaging, possibly home page building," Brown said.
Snap is the latest portal site to incorporate Inktomi search technology. Microsoft also recently signed an agreement for the firm to develop a Microsoft-branded search engine for its own highly anticipated portal site, dubbed "Start."
Today's announcement also underscores Inktomi's position as a key technology provider for companies rushing onto the increasingly crowded portal space.
Though the importance of search functions is being overshadowed to a degree by add-ons such as free email, Web search is still a crucial aspect of the sites. That may increase Inktomi's appeal to media companies such as Disney that are looking to create their own portals, said Patrick Keane, an analyst at Jupiter Communications.
"I see nice revenues [for Inktomi] moving forward by partnering with many players trying to get into portal space," Keane noted. "Many companies don't want to build it themselves. It makes far more business sense to license technology."