Yahoo Search Exec: Bing Is Both Friend And Foe

Yahoo on Monday used a press event to unveil a number of upgrades to Yahoo Search, Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Messenger, and discuss its upcoming partnership with Microsoft, in which Bing will power Yahoo as part of the two companies' decade-long agreement.

The tone of its executives' remarks, however, sends a message to both Google and Microsoft that despite its underdog status, Yahoo doesn't plan on taking a back seat to either.

"Let me just say that the agreement calls for Microsoft to supply us with algorithmic Web search results, images and video," said Prabhakar Raghavan, senior vice president of Yahoo Labs and Search Strategy, according to a YouTube video of his remarks from the conference. "Just as their front-end team is free to innovate on top of that layer, we will be free to innovate on top of that layer. So, it's not that it calls for any specific collaboration beyond that. In fact, I fully anticipate that our front-end experience will evolve differently from that of Bing."

Raghavan suggested that Yahoo won't "fight the megawatt war" with Google and Bing to win search share competition so much as try to be the platform from which search and other user functions like mail and content sharing originate.

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"What we want to compete on is the front-end experience that has to do with what is the user trying to get done, what user intent signals do we have and how can we create the user experience that makes that user happier when they use our metrics and we fully expect Bing will do the same," Raghavan said.

The changes to Yahoo's features include more intelligent search results and controls for Yahoo Search and a social networking makeover for Yahoo Mail that includes status updates and the ability to share content with Yahoo contacts.

"The evolution you see today reflects our focus on enabling people to connect with what matters to them most," said Ari Balogh, Yahoo executive vice president of products and CTO, in a statement Monday.