Yahoo Shopping Search

November 22, 2008

My mother had a black thumb. She could plant a flower, and it would die. My father, on the other hand, could grow tomatoes that would spawn softball-sized fruit without doing much more than dropping the seed on the ground. Yahoo is a bit like my mother, not with plants but with growing profitable businesses. I read in TechCrunch a story by Ouriel Ohayon here that Yahoo sold its Kelkoo property. Yahoo had a shopping search at the time of the 2004 acquisition. Yahoo still has its not too useful to me shopping site today. What it doesn’t have is the $450 million the company lost on the deal. Yahoo has a financial black thumb.

Its inability to integrate acquisitions has long been one of the company’s most glaring weaknesses. The sale of Kelkoo proves once again that Yahoo doesn’t integrate its acquisitions in the manner of Google. Yahoo can own a property for four years and sell it like I would sell one of my goslings. Not much integration evident, do you think?

And what about Yahoo’s shopping search at this pivotal time of the retail year? In my opinion, I don’t think it is very good. Someone responded to my earlier criticism of Yahoo’s shopping search by pointing me to Kelkoo. Well, that won’t work now, will it. Try this test. Navigate to, click the “shopping” label above the search box, and you will see the bold face “shopping” to alert you that you are now running a shopping search. Now enter this query: “penguin bracelet”. What do you see? Well, I got this page of results:

penguin bracelet yahoo

Now navigate to Google, click products, and run the same query. Here’s what I received from the GOOG:

penguin bracelet google

I know these screen shots are difficult to read due to WordPress’s helpful image compression algorithm. But the key point is that the Yahoo results includes zero nada zippo penguin bracelets. Google delivers me penguin bracelets.

Similar queries return similar results. I am not sure why the Yahoo system does not do a better job of figuring out what I want when I run a query. Maybe I am not as tuned into the Yahoo “way”? Maybe Yahoo is not as tuned into what I want when I run a query? Maybe it is just a lousy search system and method? I use Yahoo less and less because it’s search system continues to unhelpful for me. Google, despite its weird positioning of Google Products is getting better.

My hypothesis: Google has my father’s green thumb. Yahoo has my mother’s black thumb (may she rest in peace). Not only does Yahoo have the uncanny ability to muff its acquisitions, Yahoo can’t find penguin bracelets.

Frankly I am tired of Yahoo technologists telling me that Yahoo’s engineering is as good or better than Google’s. I just don’t buy that argument. I can’t relate to black thumbs, and it is a fact that I can’t buy a penguin bracelet via the Yahoo shopping search system. I can, however, buy a pink penguin bracelet, a gold penguin bracelet, and silver blue gray penguin bracelet from Google.

Stephen Arnold, November 22, 2008


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