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Yahoo! opens up its search to outside developers

Yahoo! just took a bold move toward making itself the center of the search universe.

Significant as its deal with Google on search may be, Yahoo!'s new BOSS (Build Your Own Search Service) promises to be much bigger.

The goal of BOSS is simple: to foster innovation in the search industry. Developers, start-ups, and large Internet companies can use BOSS to build and launch web-scale search products that utilize the entire Yahoo! Search index. BOSS gives you access to Yahoo!'s investments in crawling and indexing, ranking and relevancy algorithms, and powerful infrastructure. By combining your unique assets and ideas with our search technology assets, BOSS is a platform for the next generation of search innovation, serving hundreds of millions of users across the Web.

This is Really Big News. Why? Because Yahoo! is effectively enabling a whole host of partners...and competitors. "[D]evelopers and start-ups now have the technology and infrastructure to build next generation search solutions that can compete head-to-head with the principals in the search industry." Including, of course, Yahoo!.

Why do this? Because it makes Yahoo! the center of the search universe, to the extent that search is embedded in other services, rather than merely consumed. I could see Yahoo!'s search embedded into individual websites to foster better search, but I can also see new businesses being built upon it just as companies have built in Spring, Hibernate, and other open-source code into their products.

Nice move, Yahoo! Now we'll see if it pays.