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Why Don’t Google & Yahoo Offer Twitter Search?
Yesterday, we got a new news search engine which taps into Twitter that Yahoo’s excited about, as it uses their BOSS system. That kind of annoyed me. Why didn’t Yahoo just build the service themselves? Or a regular Twitter search service, for that matter? And where’s Twitter search from Google?
BOSS is Yahoo’s Build Your Own Search Service product, which lets anyone take Yahoo’s data and create their own search engine. It’s grown into part of Yahoo’s “open strategy” where it hopes to make gains on the web by supposedly pulling in data from everywhere as well as being open to others using its data.
TweetNews was trotted out by Yahoo as the latest example of how BOSS is succeeding. It takes stories showing up on Yahoo News and ranks them based on how much Twitter activity they’re receiving.
Kind of cool, right? Sure, it is. But then again, TweetNews was created by Vik Singh, a Yahoo programmer who works on the BOSS team. Why not just build this as Yahoo product itself? Hosted on a Yahoo site, rather than depending on Google’s App Engine (and dying when it exceeded the allowed quota). Moreover, why not build Yahoo’s own version of Twitter search?
People can argue over whether Twitter has mass appeal or not. You cannot argue that at this point, news DOES break out on Twitter far ahead of any other source. I watched firsthand how news about fires breaking out around me in Southern California last November was reported on Twitter before it hit Google News and other sources. The same is true for two different earthquakes I’ve gone through in the past six months. There are any number of other examples where Twitter has news that’s coming out and being eventually cited. Yesterday’s New York plane crash on the Hudson River was yet another case in point.
Twitter has powerful, compelling material. And if you want to find that material, you go to Twitter. Not to Yahoo. Not to Google, the king of search. Twitter.
I think it’s a missed opportunity for both Google and Yahoo. And for Yahoo in particular, while Google is closing down some search projects (arguably for good reasons), Yahoo should still be building its own unique and valuable search tools — not depending so much on others to do it.