Search Engine Wars

Ever since the days of Prodigy, various companies have battled to win users for their search engines. Since the Internet is comparable to a giant library, users need a way to navigate. With this need comes the potential for advertising and lots of revenue. During the dot-com bubble, search companies like Infoseek and Xoom launched IPOs without much more than a popular search site and a lot of potential and promises. Today, search companies need to be more commercially viable to attract investors. However, the rewards are even greater since there are billions of dollars to be made. Here are two examples of companies that have dominated the search arena.

Google

Now the titan of search, Google started as the brainchild of two Stanford University students. Eschewing the heavy advertising of its competitors, Google rose to preeminence by providing the most useful and clean search service. Soon after enjoying near-ubiquity in the search arena, Google launched a highly successful advertising platform called Ad Words, which allows users to pay for advertisements on searches for their desired keywords. Since Ad Words is so targeted, unobtrusive, and successful, it has resulted in billions of dollars of revenue for Google. Google’s success has allowed it to launch several other successful applications, like Google Maps, Google Chrome, and Gmail, its free email application.

Yahoo!

Like Google, Yahoo! got its start in Silicon Valley and rose to prominence quickly, launching an IPO and watching its stock’s value explode. As time passed, however, Yahoo!’s popularity in the search engine arena waned. This was partly due to the rise of Google, but also due to an inability to change and remain relevant to users who put usability first. Since users increasingly had other choices for the services that Yahoo! provided, they would go elsewhere for applications that Yahoo! didn’t do well, resulting in a net loss of users.