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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Yahoo Talks Search Strategy and the Microsoft Deal

Yahoo is revealing its new plans for search here at an event it has dubbed “Yahoo! SearchSpeak,” occurring now at Yahoo’s headquarters in Sunnyvale.

While the world’s second-largest search engine is slated to be sucked up by the Microsoft mothership later this year, the team hasn’t stopped developing new features for its product.

On stage, SVP of Search Products Shashi Seth began to discuss Yahoo’s history of search and “misconceptions” of the Yahoo-Bing (Bing) deal, and still went on about the subject even after the power went out throughout the Yahoo building.

Specifically, Mr. Seth spoke about keeping users engaged with Yahoo search until the Bing deal came through (if it is approved, he specifically added).

Here’s some of what of the Yahoo team spoke about:

Now You Can IM Your Facebook Friends With AIM

Facebook and AOL Instant Messenger have made a deal: Now you can send IMs to your Facebook friends using the new AIM beta client for Mac or Windows.

It was already possible to merge AIM’s Lifestream with Facebook’s News Feed — and with Twitter (Twitter), too. But Facebook’s IM network has always been a bit unfriendly to outside connections. The Mac desktop app Adium (Adium) supports Facebook (Facebook), but with frequent disconnections and other issues.

Web IM app Meebo (Meebo) has had an on-again, off-again relationship with the social network. It was one of the first to support Facebook, but when Facebook Connect went live, the network asked Meebo to rework its IM network connections around that new framework. The result was a Facebook outage on Meebo. The issue has since been rectified.

AIM (aim) uses Facebook Connect to integrate with Facebook IM, too. When you load up the beta for the first time, you’ll see an option just above your contacts to connect with Facebook. Do that and all your Facebook friends will appear in your AIM contact list. You can chat with them just like you can with your AIM buddies. We tried it, and it seemed to work well.
It’s Neat, But…

We’d still like to see Facebook’s IM network open up completely to third-party applications without any workarounds or hoops to jump through.

We just spoke about Google Buzz’s lack of support for Facebook, and this is the same sort of issue. Whether we’re talking about instant message networks or web-based social networks, there are too many islands out there and it’s not easy enough to sail between them. The AIM/Facebook deal is an exciting one. We just wish it wasn’t necessary to begin with.

Update: Shortly after we published, Facebook appears to have granted us our wish. The company announced on their blog that they’re opening up Chat to all IM clients.

Google Getting Into the ISP Business With Ultra High-Speed Network

Could Google be your next ISP? Maybe. The company has just announced a trial of its own high-speed network that it plans to offer to “at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.”

Google says it will be capable of delivering speeds more than 100x faster than typical U.S. Internet connections with up to one gigabit per second. It will do so at a “competitive” price.

The next step in getting this potentially massive project off the ground appears to be teaming up with local governments – Google has launched this website and intros “Google Fiber for Communities” in the video below:

Why is Google getting into the ISP business? Here’s the explanation:

“Next generation apps: We want to see what developers and users can do with ultra high-speeds, whether it’s creating new bandwidth-intensive ‘killer apps’ and services, or other uses we can’t yet imagine.

New deployment techniques: We’ll test new ways to build fiber networks, and to help inform and support deployments elsewhere, we’ll share key lessons learned with the world.

Openness and choice: We’ll operate an ‘open access’ network, giving users the choice of multiple service providers. And consistent with our past advocacy, we’ll manage our network in an open, non-discriminatory and transparent way.”

Although it sounds like we’re still some time away from seeing Google’s fiber service available on a massive scale, this could represent a massive shift in the Internet ecosystem. Keep in mind that Google has also recently launched its own Public DNS service, as well as an alternative to HTTP that it calls SPDY. The company clearly thinks it can build a better Internet than the one we have today.

If it’s successful, Google (Google) will not only know what we do on its plethora of services, but also just about everything else we do on the web (especially if Google becomes our ISP). Now, perhaps more than ever, the question of whether or not that’s too much power for one company to have is at the forefront.

Update: Google tells us they “honestly have no plans to build a nationwide network” and offered us this statement: “our goal is to develop a trial network in one or more communities that reaches at least 50,000 people, which will enable experimentation to help make the Internet better and faster.”