Yahoo unveils its answer to Google Instant search

Yahoo, which has claimed that it beat Google to the punch at instant search in the first place, has released a new product called Search Direct.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
2 min read

Yahoo today announced upgrades to its search product that bring up search results in real-time as a query is typed, much like the "Google Instant" technology launched last year. Called "Search Direct," Yahoo says this still-in-beta service will provide "a fast, simple search experience that goes beyond a list of blue links."

Highlighted in Yahoo Search Direct are results beyond the hyperlink, with its ability to detect queries related to movies, television, local information, and trending news topics.

"With today's launch, direct answers--not the search results page--is the primary focus. We are redefining the search process and prominently displaying direct answers where search decisions are being made," said Shashi Seth, Yahoo senior vice president of search and marketplaces, in a statement. "Search Direct is evidence of Yahoo! continuing to lead innovation in search, enabling people to take action faster, find what is most important, and sample what is possible with the next stage of search technology."

Yahoo's search market share is currently flat, according to numbers released this month by Experian Hitwise--about 16 percent in both January and February, in comparison to Bing, which ticked up slightly from 13 percent to 13.6 percent over that same time period.

Yahoo's chief product officer, Blake Irving, said that Search Direct is in league with the company's aim to "engage and delight" users. "When I saw the initial prototypes of the stuff, I was absolutely blown away," Irving said of Search Direct. Of its "very strong search alliance with Microsoft," Irving insisted that "Yahoo's still in the search game...(we focus on) the user experience and innovating there."

As of today it's now visible on the search.yahoo.com page, and will roll out to "wherever there's a search box" on Yahoo sites in the coming months.

When Google Instant launched, Shashi Seth authored a Yahoo blog post reminding readers that Yahoo originally launched an instant search feature in 2005.

"While many have suggested that innovation in the search experience is waning, we celebrate industry enhancements that build upon past innovation," he wrote--a bit of a backhanded compliment. "Though the advancement came too early for some, and the results were too overwhelming for others, Yahoo filed patent applications on the feature and continued to build upon and innovate in the search experience."