YAHOO FINANCE -- Jan 23 -- Yahoo is on a quiet acquisitions tear. First, it snapped up photo-sharing site Flickr in March. In December, it acquired del.icio.us, a service that bookmarks and shares users' favorite Web sites. And on Jan. 6, Yahoo purchased WebJay, a site for creating and sharing music playlists. By cultivating online communities -- and encouraging people to tap into the collective knowledge of these groups -- Yahoo is hoping to change the way people find information online. Known in industry parlance as "social search," it presents a significant departure from the Google approach, which relies on complicated mathematical models to help users find sites. Social search gleans input and preferences from the communities which searchers are associated with. Someone seeking "Mexican restaurants," for instance, would arguably be better served by results reflecting preferences of people in the same neighborhood. It could represent a monumental shift in search technology. Google has done far less than Yahoo in the arena of online community building. Google's long-term bet remains on using computing horsepower. Startup Eurekster hit the market first with its social search technology in early 2004. Jeteye Technologies and Kaboodle followed. Yahoo is applying social search on a limited basis in its My Web 2.0 beta product. "Social search is not one of these things that will take off overnight," says Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li. "It will take a lot of time to build."
Mark Brooks: At the core of social search, Yahoo is attempting to capture and bottle 'friendly referrals/recommendations.' Wouldn't you rather get a referral/recommendation from a friend? This is groundbreaking work. Yahoo may well apply the social search spin to Yahoo Personals. They have the critical mass to make this work. A great differentiator that plays to Yahoo's size. Friendster tried it. Yahoo has the usership clout to make social search really fly for online personals. Check out Yahoo's Web 2.0 Search.