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Overture To Buy AltaVista 186

Posted by timothy
from the we're-done-with-the-overtures dept.
Nate writes "Overture announced that they bought AltaVista today for $140M in cash and stock. This follows closely on the heels of Yahoo's purchase of Inktomi. Considering the significant financial muscle of Yahoo and Overture, I hope that Google can continue to maintain their lead. For those of you who aren't familiar with Overture, they are the 800-pound gorilla in the pay-for-placement listing market. When you search in Yahoo, those Sponsor Matches at the top are provided by Overture."
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Overture To Buy AltaVista

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  • by creative_name (459764) <pauls@nospaM.ou.edu> on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @10:31PM (#5331712)
    That's all fine and dandy but Google is still by far the best way to search the web. It has more features than a geek's leatherman and is faster than Superman on speed.

    So what if sometimes it dances a lil'bit.
    • not because its owners are stinkin rich (are they?)

      Buying out a company that everyone hates for handling ads won't make you more respected.

      In other new, my company [frob.us] has decided to buy out Microsoft. We hope that this will help us in our global domination plans.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @10:32PM (#5331715)
    But I do know this... They can't make AltaVista suck much more than it has the past few years. It used to be my main search engine back in the mid-90s.
    • aw its not that bad . . . last stats i heard it searches more of the web than yahoo. 17% i think it was. its music search is pretty convenient too.

      • I use only Google and once in awhile Yahoo for searching the web.
        That said, Altavista's "babelfish" translation service is a #1 with me for translating text from one language to another.
        FWIW, InfoSeek used to be my #1 search service because of their search syntax.
      • Well, unfortunately coverage size doesn't make up for poor ranking. Google is bit slow in getting to new pages (took almost a month to index my home pages when I moved to a new ISP), but its ranking accuracy is top-notch. So, as long as coverage is not an order-of-magniture worse with Google than with alternatives, I don't see that as being the determining factor.

        Of course, I'm Yet Another of those "used Altavista for years, then switched to Google never looked back" users... so what do I know about AV's current usefulness. :-)

    • Yep, back in the day, AltaVista's boolean search was the bomb...

      ((bra or pantry) and (thumbnail or gallery or archive))

      Or what ever your style of porn was back then =)

      Now adays I just use autopr0n [autopr0n.com]

      ah, how the net has grown.

    • Altavista has one feature that has me ocassionaly returning and that is the NEAR keyword, basically you can use it as an AND that limits the matching of documents to those where the two operands are within a set number of words of each other (roughly one paragraph). This is great when you are looking for a common word and a term but don't want every page where they both happened to be used. If Google added this one feature I would never use anything else =)
    • Come on, people. Alta Vista has had text-only search for ages, and for at least a few years they've had raging.com [raging.com] which is just as aesthetically pleasing as Google. I find myself trying Google first and then going to raging.com if the topic i was looking for doesn't pop up in the first few Google pages (assuming Google has any results at all). Alta Vista picks up different results, and i'm sure lists a few pages that Google doesn't - mainly older pages that were around before Google existed and never got linked into the main spidering network.

    • by alexo (9335)
      Google limits your queries to 10 words or less, does not have wildcards (letter, not word) or stemming and its boolean options are limited to phrase, OR and "word wildcards".

      When I (admittedly rarely) hit those limits, I turn to AltaVista.
  • by Gerrioholic99 (309014) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @10:32PM (#5331716) Journal
    Overture and Yahoo may have more money; however, no amount can make me want to go to a search engine that I can't view in the "Bork!" Language. Bork, Bork, Bork!
    • No kidding! You gotta love google, if only for that.

      or better yet, Elmer Fudd, Kingon, Pig Latin, and H4x0r!

    • Overture and Yahoo may have more money; however, no amount can make me want to go to a search engine that I can't view in the "Bork!" Language. Bork, Bork, Bork!

      I like the h4x0r [google.com] version of Google, personally.
    • no amount can make me want to go to a search engine that I can't view in the "Bork!" Language.

      So, how about MSN search viewed in Opera [slashdot.org]?

  • Press Release (Score:5, Informative)

    by Entropy_ah (19070) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @10:33PM (#5331719) Homepage Journal
    The offical press release is here [corporate-ir.net].
  • So.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by easyfrag (210329) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @10:33PM (#5331723)
    Which is it? Is Google a big brother monopolist or a scrappy underdog? I'm confused.
    • Re:So.... (Score:4, Funny)

      by SirSlud (67381) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @10:42PM (#5331800) Homepage
      You should try fundamentalism .. that way you never have to deal with differing opinions.

      Wanna lolly?
      • ahh, fundamentalism . . . brings back sweet memories of CivII . . . no revolts, move units wherever you please, that was the way to go.
    • Make up your own mind.
    • Re:So.... (Score:4, Funny)

      by Jester99 (23135) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @03:23AM (#5333150) Homepage
      Is Google a big brother monopolist or a scrappy underdog?

      Ok people, one last time:

      On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Google is the scrappy underdog, whereas Apple is the evil faceless corporation.

      On Mondays and Wednesdays, the reverse is true.

      Every day is Linux-is-good-day, except on Friday, when we all denounce RedHat for actually charging for some service they provide.

      Oh. And vi is always better than emacs. :) (*ducks*)
    • Which is it? Is Google a big brother monopolist or a scrappy underdog? I'm confused.

      Exactly. Given enough time, capitolism works every time its tried. Thats why I don't get too worried about 'big bad' companies. They generally shoot themselves in the foot or are too big to adapt fast enough.

      Case in point: The weak ass anti-trust case with Microsoft has make a difference in how they conduct business (ask Opera). However, several thousand programmers doing it for free, will.

      If women just gave it away, there would be no need to hookers. (wait, did I just compare programmers with prostitutes?)

    • Nobody agreed with that stuff griping about Google the other day. At least, noone who was modded up to 5. I think it was posted mostly for discussion (of course, it's a dupe; we'd all seen it before).

  • *Sniff* (Score:5, Funny)

    by Papa Legba (192550) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @10:36PM (#5331744)
    Bring a tear to my eye this news does. It is so 1999 and sweet of them. Brings back found memories of the old new economy. Hopefull all those $200K CFO's from back then will lift a spatula at their current job in honor of this event.
    • Re:*Sniff* (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Bring a tear to my eye this news does. It is so 1999 and sweet of them.

      Seriously, I think the recession is coming to an end...

      • Everyone I know who was looking for work a year ago (50+% of my friends here in Silicon Valley) are now working.
      • Investors are sounding upbeat about a few select things... now they'd invest if they had the $$, whereas last year if they had the $$ they'd stick it in their mattresses.
      • We're hearing about more high-profile acquisitions - i.e. the super rich are getting (just a little) silly again.
      • In general when someone mentions the poor economy, the response is more one of "yeah yeah we all know shut up already" rather than commisery
      • there seem to be a few more new 2-seaters around. Saw two new brand new porsches and a Z4 yesterday. Hey, it's as good an indicator as any stock index. :)


      All in all, it seems the most catastrophic forces have waned...
  • by shepd (155729) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [gro.todhsals]> on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @10:36PM (#5331748) Homepage Journal
    I don't think this is going to make people switch. People don't automatically use stuff because a company has more money or we'd all be using OS/2 right now. It takes a mix of good marketing and good enough product quality to do that. Neither altavista or yahoo offer the latter anymore, so I'm not at all worried.
  • by bayankaran (446245) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @10:37PM (#5331754) Homepage
    Overture should have bought Astalavista...seems they missed on spelling.
  • I can find any word in the dictionary. 100 bucks. How about it?
  • by gpinzone (531794) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @10:38PM (#5331758) Homepage Journal
    An unprofitable [fuckedcompany.com] Internet company buys another unprofitable [fuckedcompany.com] business company! Who says the Internet boom was over?
    • I wonder how much of thw $140M was cash and how much was stock.

      On one hand, everyone needs cash.

      On the other hand, their stock is probably in the dumps.
      • by po_boy (69692)
        Overture will pay AltaVista in common stock currently valued at $80 million, plus $60 million in cash; and it will assume certain of AltaVista's liabilities.

        I don't understand why you people don't read the articles. I can't stress this enough, people: read the articles. They contain, useful, topical information.
  • What? (Score:1, Redundant)

    by alexandre (53)
    You mean people are still using altavista? :-P
  • by EvilCabbage (589836) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @10:39PM (#5331770) Homepage
    ... is the day I stop using them.

    Not really a constructive comment, but I'm slightly frazzled at the moment.
    • by kyletinsley (575229) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @10:56PM (#5331894) Homepage

      The day a seach engine uses "pay for placement"... is the day I stop using them.

      Then I guess your search options are pretty limited, huh? Every major search engine now is either hooked up with Overture/Ah-ha/etc, or has their own fee for submitting. Except Google, but some of google's ads appear as lines that look very similar to their regular search results, and are directly above the search results (just like Overture's). The only major difference between how Google places theirs and how Overture et. al does theirs, is Google has a different background color for the ad text, making it a little more obvious that they are ads.

      But it's not a huge mental leap to go from "background color" to "no background color", especially under pressure from advertisers, with in an increasingly smaller number of search engines to advertise with.

      ----

      Yeah, I know there are more search engines popping up every day. And _you_ know that nobody ever goes to them either. When was the last time you used one of those other 15,000 search engines that all those spammers tell you they'll submit your site to for 50 bucks??


      • But it's not a huge mental leap to go from "background color" to "no background color", especially under pressure from advertisers, with in an increasingly smaller number of search engines to advertise with.


        I thought that in this case the search engines are the sellers (selling, in this case, search result placement) and the merchents were the buyers. Having fewer sellers would give more leverage to the remaining sellers.

        Taking the situation to the logical extreme, if there was only one search engine, that engine, call it Google, can tell merchants "we will use background colors to prominently denote ads, take it or leave it"
      • But it's not a huge mental leap to go from "background color" to "no background color", especially under pressure from advertisers

        It IS a huge mental leap to start deliberately confusing your users and eventually losing them. And when that happens, the advertisers leave you too.
    • While I understand the mechanics of business, I would much rather, say, donate a few bucks to a good search engine, than have one provided for nothing, that serves up results, not due to good ratings, or useful information, but rather how much they were paid.

      I get advertising when I drink my god-damned coffee (suppliers names plastered all over my mug), when I watch a movie ("James Bond -Franchise Another Day" anyone?), etc..etc.. I don't _want_ it shoved down my throat when Im searching for relevant information. Its hard enough sifting the crap from anything useful already.
    • Huh? Search for legal advice [google.com] on Google -- the top placement is paid for.

      Overture isn't the 800 lbs. gorilla if you're comparing them to Google. You people have to get off this "Google Dot Org" thing, and understand that Google is big pay-click player and huge revenue maker.
    • Overture's search engine has sponsored links and regular links, though they mix them in a bit more than Google does. Link sponsors bid on how much they're willing to pay per click-through, and the sponsored links get sorted by high bid. (And with Overture, the last time I checked, they had a policy that the three highest bidders for a set of keywords get sponsored as advertising on Google searches for the same keywords.) Various people have commmented that this can be used to bash spammers. Go search for bulk email [overture.com] or some similar spammer-advertising phrase, and check out how much they're paying - typically the top couple bidders for that term are in the $2-5 range, though I've occasionally seen it as high as $15 (presumably a badly automated bidding war?), and the next dozen are usually $1 or more. So open a new Mozilla session, open the top few dozen sponsored links in new tabs, reject cookies from the spammers, let it download for a while to be sure they're all there, and then kill off the window. Then go back in to Mozilla and kill off the cookies you've gotten from overture, since they do have various anti-abuse protections to keep people from hacking the searching mechanisms (e.g. to discourage people from using this to bash their customers....) I don't know if they also track IP addresses, but you can be creative. Also check them out using Google.
  • Financial muscle ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IanBevan (213109) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @10:39PM (#5331774) Homepage

    Considering the significant financial muscle of Yahoo and Overture, I hope that Google can continue to maintain their lead

    Well unless Yahoo and Overture intend to pay me to do searhes, rather than the other way around, I'm not sure financial muscle has much to do with it. Google is fast, convenient and accurate. 'Nuff said.

    • So long as one does not have to wade through pay-for-placement listings before coming across something useful, Google will maintain their lead. No matter how much money Yahoo or Overture throw at their search engines, I want to find what I'm looking for in the first page or two of my search results (which doesn't always happen anyway), not what somebody else wants me to find.
  • www.goo ... i dunno, I think goo .. altavista and google.c .. er, Inktomi are going to have a rough ride.
  • Overture. (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Curtain lights.

    This is it.

    The night of nights.

    No more rehearsing and nursing a part.

    We know every part by heart.
  • by kajoob (62237) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @10:40PM (#5331785)
    and to think many moons ago in 1998 the domain name alone sold for 3.3mil.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    But after google, the only redeeming feature it had was babelfish -- and now google translates webpages better, too.

    Altavista became way too bloated and way too commercial, and it will wither and die away within 5 years. Everything it does, google does, but without the sense of bloat or loading 200k webpages full of ads.
  • Search Engines (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @10:43PM (#5331808)
    Google may be the most popular geeks' search tool, but it's not my favorite. I much prefer engines like http://www.vivisimo.com/ and http://www.teoma.com/ and even http://www.alltheweb.com/ http://wisenut.com/ is also a really good engine and gettinng better every week. The best image finder is either http://www.ditto.com / or http://www.picsearch.com/ If you're after music and videos, then http://www.singingfish.com is for you...
  • by mr.crutch (98516) <kingcrutch@yahoo . c om> on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @10:50PM (#5331852)
    Really, why should you, or anyone else care if Google maintains their lead unless you happen to be employed by them?

    If Yahoo! or Overture can produce a better service than Google does, we should applaud them and support their advances. I want the best service possible, I'm not particularly interested in which corporation provides it.

    Don't get me wrong, I love Google, and I find new uses for it weekly it seems, but I'm not sitting in front of my computer rooting for them.

    They're a business, just like every other business out there -- the only difference is that's it's geek chic to profess devotion to them.
    • Who cares?

      I was about to post the same thing as you - and you're right. But look at it a little differently: obviously, there is going to be one search engine out ahead, and we'll use it. In a way, I do hope that Google is that one, not because I care about them, but because a lot of their policies are very good, with regards to privacy, advertising, etc. Of course, perhaps you could consider those part of the decision regarding which search engine is out front. So let me phrase it this way: I hope that Google, or an equally 'fair' search engine has the best search technology.
    • by Nessak (9218) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @11:52PM (#5332248) Homepage
      Well, I care.

      Google has by in large done good thing for searching and the internet in general. They showed that you don't need $100 million ad budgets and hundreds of images. They provide a very good service to users (Search, Groups, etc) and they make a good profit at it. Their interface is very clean and neat, fast loading, and works with allmost everything. No only is their advertising not annoying like most sites, it is sometimes very helpfull. I click on google "placement" ads and never click on banner ads. They provide good searches for things like linux and most major universities. They are a "good" company, as far as companies go.

      The effects of google on the internet can been seen. I have seen many sites trying to get away from the thousands of banners in favor of clean neat data in the google manner.

      If this new company does all of this and provide better searches, then I will use them. But if they place ads in searches without making it very clear they are ads (unlike google) and use some ad-ridden interface and still "lead" then this won't be good for internet in general.

      I like the google school of thaught when it comes to a internet company. Even if google fails, I would like to see this concept continue to do so well in the marketplace and with technical users.
    • Well, that's an interesting point.

      Indeed, why should I care which company is "in the lead?"

      The fact that so many slashdotters are "rooting" for Google brings up an interesting, and probably long-forgotten concept to mind: brand loyalty.

      Today's economy has been drawing lines between corporations (or producers, if you will), and us mere mortals, dubbed "consumers" by the marketroids. Do you feel like a number in America? That's because you're treated like one. You're a statistic. Just another wallet to suck out of. That's why nobody cares if they steal music and movies over the Internet. They use you when it's convenient, so you use them when it's convenient. Fair's fair and all.

      But Google did something different -- they didn't sell out and make you need to subscribe or deal with in-your-face ads all over -- they actually thought about "what makes people like not just our product, but us?"

      They've been rewarded with an almost religious zeal from hundreds of thousands, if not millions of geeks. It's a story that many companies should probably take a lesson from.
      • An other important thing to mention is that geeks are prescriptors too. Their familiy and friends listen to their opinion and ask them technical questions. I told countless friends about Google at it's begining, and they have all adopted it. This is what is called viral Marketing.
    • Really, why should you, or anyone else care if Google maintains their lead unless you happen to be employed by them?

      I hate brand loyalty myself. It is generally a negative reflex that gets you in trouble. That said, here is why I might still root for Google:

      Google happens to be one of those successful anomalies where what is truly the best product from a technical point of view, or from a specialists point of view, or whatever, also happens to be a huge public success and occupy a near monopolistic role. It's kinda refreshing!

      Here is what would be "bad", IMHO: some other search engine becomes successful for the wrong reasons that appeal to Joe Sixpack but end up having a negative impact on the web. (I can't really see what that impact could be, but I trust the MBA's to come up with something that would really piss everybody off.)

      So while I don't particularly care about the Google corporation, I'm just glad that what seems to be a decent outfit is king of the hill. Capitalism, or even Web Capitalism, doesn't always promote the highest quality product (cf. Micorsoft), so we should be glad when it does.

    • It's Geek Chic to like Google because they do a really excellent job - if somebody else does an even better one, or Google starts to do a bad job, we'll change search engines. I've tried a couple of the alternatives - NorthernLights was pretty good for a while, but their business model failed them, and Teoma got good buzz but I wasn't impressed with the results, which may have been from not searching enough pages rather than from less exciting algorithms.


      There have been various attempts by Fundamentally Clueless People [google-watch.org] to try to get Google regulated by Somebody, Anybody, Especially the Government, preferably by the FTC (because Google is alleged to be essentially a public utility) or at least to get the Ralph Nader folks turned on to Google-Bashing. After all, if Google claims to try to rank the most interesting and relevant topics high in its list, and you're not one of them, that's Just Not Fair! [gurge.com], and at least some arguments from Brandt or people like him want the government to force Google to rank things fairly. Well, duh! The reason everybody uses Google instead of some of its competitors is *precisely* because it usually does a really good job of finding the things everybody is looking for, as opposed to Displaying items 1-10 of the 13122319084324 web pages matching your search in no particularly useful order, and covers a reasonable fraction of the material on the web. The beauty of open technologies like the web is that if you don't like the pagerank, you can go make one of your own; instead of convincing the government Google to change its search order to work the way you want it to, you can just as well run your own search engine or convince your favorite Feds to run their own Politically Correct Search Engine. Meanwhile, if they mess up Google too badly, we'll have to go find something else anyway, and if some liberal-intentioned luser convinces the Feds to mess up all the US search engines, we'll use one from somewhere else, but that's degrading the value of Google for the whole world community, while running your own competitor engine is potentially very valuable to the world (if you're good at it, either as a standalone site or an additional-searches site), or at least neutral.

      An entirely different attempt to control Google was the Search King lawsuit. (Slashdot story [slashdot.org], LawMeme article [yale.edu].) Unlike Brandt, who's a clueless whiny-liberal type who knows fairness better than you do, Search King was merely greedy, a parasite that tries to sell people a service of improving their Google ranking and then whined because Google downrates sites that try to manipulate their rankings so that their boring pages show up before more genuinely interesting pages. (Of course, Google _will_ be happy to provide you a sponsored-listing ad entry if you pay them, but those are at least visually distinguishable.)

  • by axlrosen (88070) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @10:51PM (#5331862) Homepage
    When you search on an Overture site like Altavista or Lycos, the paid matches show up at the top, but they are labeled as "sponsored matches". When you search Google, the paid matches show up on the right, and are labeled "sponsored links". I guess that's a little different, but not by a whole lot. So why is one "pay-for-placement" and the other isn't?
    • by Scrameustache (459504) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:41AM (#5332512) Homepage Journal
      So why is one "pay-for-placement" and the other isn't?

      Because I had been using Google for years before I ever read the results in the "sponsored links" section, whereas the whore-for-placement systems adds just one more tiny frustration in my day, having to make a slight mental effort to ignore the first results and go down to get to what I really want.

      I sometimes go for the sponsored links, when I'm looking for something commercial (once every other blue moon), but for my everyday geek searches for futurama quotes and python lyrics, I don't want to be forced to read that commercial site X has great prices on python DVDs, I just want What I Was Looking For.
    • Google also has sponsored text ads at the top. These are the premium ad spots and hence they cost a lot more than the spots on the right. Google's text ads are distinguished from regular search results by background and text color. They've hit on a brilliant business model if you ask me, and Google's success as a business is proof of that. Google is fast and unobtrusive for the user, yet effective and valuable for the advertiser, and ultimately profitable for Google. It's a win-win situation for everybody.
  • it offers what I want. Advertising dollars, PR efforts, and FUD can only mask an inferior product for a given time. In the end you will always return to the product you feel is better. If you still have that choice.
  • The BBC [bbc.co.uk] states that Altavista once boasted 65M users per month. That doesn't seem very much to me when I use search engines 20-50 times a day, perhaps that may be above the norm but that must have been pre Google. Is there a list of search engine usage anywhere?
  • by seldolivaw (179178) <me.seldo@com> on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @10:57PM (#5331898) Homepage
    AltaVista is clearly a dying brand as far as web-search goes; is overture just buying it for the traffic?
  • I seem to remember that Altavista could be reached through a host on some old guard company's domain. Anybody have that handy?
    • Yup. altavista.digital.com. Still works too.
    • Re:Digital? (Score:5, Informative)

      by cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @11:49PM (#5332226)
      Altavista started off (kind of like Yahoo, and Google itself in a way) as a happy accident. They wanted a way to showcase Alpha technology, so they created http://altavista.digital.com. They'd spider the web, and since Alphas were the premiere 64 bit chip, they'd show off "hey we have the Internet indexed on a single server with a single system image". But what was essentially advertising, became useful. Just as a lot of things lucked into, they never really guessed that the search engine would become a profit center, and it exploded in popularity. The old owner of the domain altavista.com (forgot what they did) got massive traffic when people would hear "Altavista" and just typed it in to the browser, and Netscape would do the http://www. and the .com bookends. Eventually Digital saw the site as more than just an ad for Alpha chips and made it a product itself, including selling the code for internal indexing and all that. They bought the altavista.com domain for a hefty fee, and now the site is there. I forgot how the whole Compaq purchase fits into the timeline. Eventually Digital/Compaq realized they were horrible at making money from it, and sold it to CMGI, I forgot who has it now. It's been dying a slow death, though babelfish translations are kinda fun.

      At one time they were the best search engine, and their boolean searches - though with a clunky interface - gave the best filtering. Now google can claim that, even though they don't have the same degree of control of boolean searches. No one really has had an idea of what altavista should be, from DEC using it as an ad, then trying to "productize and monetize" it (to use buzzwords I hated from my dot.com dayze) to selling it to CMGI and have ad revenue and popups try to prop it up, to "I'm not sure what they're doing now but pretty sure they don't either."
  • by targo (409974) <targo_t@ho[ ]il.com ['tma' in gap]> on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @11:09PM (#5331978) Homepage
    I hope that Google can continue to maintain their lead.

    If anybody else would provide better service, why should you want Google still have any lead if it becomes an inferior technology then?
    Just because they have pulled off some nifty stuff doesn't mean they should be a sacred cow.
  • Altavista is still around?

    I am sorry Altavista used to be cool, in 96 and then google came around, and I would rather use that. Google is Fast, simple, and doesnt have banner ads. I am sorry, I will not use anything other than google anymore. ok maybe Dmoz.org.....I still like google

  • Brand loyalty (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Forgotten (225254) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @11:10PM (#5331990)
    I hope that Google can continue to maintain their lead

    Why? Are you an angel investor?

    Seriously, who cares who has the "lead"? As long as I have good search engines to use and they manage to stay in business and pay their people reasonable salaries, I have zero interest in some business horse race. In fact I'd be nothing but pleased if another decent search engine could come along. I dislike being quite so dependent on one (and I am, utterly, dependent on Google at this point). Google is good but their approach can't possibly be the be-all-end-all. Before Google I thought Altavista was pretty good in fact, and right now I'd seriously regret being forced to use it if Google were down or unreachable.

    I realise the article is about ad strategy rather than search strategy per se, and I really don't care about the ads as long as I can continue to ignore them. What I don't get is the fanboyism. They're a for-profit company. The fact that they've been very sane and rational in their approach so far is nice and even laudable, but it's not really some supererogatory wonderful act. If they weren't, I'd be that much less likely to use their service. Doesn't make them my teddy bear.

    • Re:Brand loyalty (Score:3, Insightful)

      by interiot (50685)
      Google proved it could really mop up by focusing on a high quality search engine rather than focusing on ramming as many big obnoxious ads as possible down your users throats, and they also did it without comprimising on their ethics. Without google around, everyone assumes that the only way to make more money is to abuse and exploit your users more, but with Google around, the execs start listen to the more rational members of their corporations more.

      No google isn't sacred, and I'm sure their search tech will be trumped at some point, but it's not likely that company will have as much integrity unless google manages to stick around enough to permanently alter the whole sector or more.


  • Considering the significant financial muscle of Yahoo and Overture, I hope that Google can continue to maintain their lead.
    This sure seems like a stupid thing to hope for.

    As has been said before, the reliance on Google really scares the hell outta me. Yeah, Google is great now, but shit happens, and shit happening to Google would really ruin me. Half my job security is based on scavenging for answers!

    Since no one else seems to be able to compete with them, maybe in the spirit of competition we could talk Google into spining off an Anti-Google?
  • Woah! I read that as they bought Astalavista(as in .box.sk) for 140M, which is a hellofalot to spend on a very-dark-grey-hat website!
  • What's Yahoo!? (Score:2, Interesting)

    What's Yahoo!? Is it anytyhing like Google? Just kidding. But seriously, even thought AltaVista was once a great search engine (remember when Digital ran it?), you'd pretty much have to clone Google to compete with Google. Pay for placement just isn't in the cards these days.
  • Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Daetrin (576516) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @11:53PM (#5332254)
    Why do you hope that Google can maintain their lead? I would think competition would be good, and last i checked, AltaVista had a feature i really like that Google doesn't. If you give AltaVista a term in quotes, it will search for _exactly_ that string. Google on the other hand will often decide that punctuation is extraneous, and i'll frequently find myself wading through ten times as many pages as i need because Google decided to drop the "'" or "," or whatever.

    Oh yeah, and AltaVista has Babblefish, that's cool too.

  • Potential (Score:4, Funny)

    by mao che minh (611166) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @11:59PM (#5332281) Journal
    The underlying importance of these moves is that major financial holders who possess a cunning internet prescence are buying up search engines (well Yahoo anyways). Google rules now, but if Yahoo or Overture throws enough money at something else, then "it" just might become a contender in the coming months.

    Frankly, I think that they still have a lot of catching up to do. I find some of the most remarkable pictures of Jessica Alba and Brintey Spears in 3 seconds of searching on images.google.com - thumbnails and all. Thousands of them. I don't know how Altavista can ever concieve of contending with that.

  • by ScriptGuru (574838) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:03AM (#5332308)
    Since I've seen a lot of posts addressing Google (usually along the lines of Best browser in the universe), I'll post a few interesting Google links:
    http://www.google.com/options/ (googlize every aspect of your life) [google.com]
    http://labs.google.com/gviewer.html (for us lazy people) [google.com]
    http://labs.google.com/keys/index.html (who needs a mouse?) [google.com]
    http://catalogs.google.com/ ( Shopping at stores -> Shopping with catalogs -> Shopping online -> Shopping with catalogs online (What is this world coming to?!?!)) [google.com]
    Google is the best (It seems to be the general concensus) not only in speed/results, but also in development and creativity.
  • by dmeranda (120061) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:19AM (#5332387) Homepage

    AltaVista used to be the best search engine; it's strength lies in basic text searching and it's incredible speed and scalability. Unfortunately it did not account much for the interlinked nature of the web and was easily subverted by web author tricks. These faults were mostly solved by Google.

    However, just as Google offers a stand-alone embedded box, the Google Appliance [google.com], for use within corporate intranets, I suspect that is an area where AltaVista's technology could thrive much better.

    Intranet searching and indexing is still a rather underexploited market. There's basically Microsoft's Index Server, flaws and all, the Google Appliance, and several good but not great minor choices such as ht://Dig [htdig.org]. If we could get an AltaVista appliance that ran under Unix (or at least not bound to Microsoft) and underpriced the Google Appliance I would have to believe that a lot of companies would take notice.

  • by faust2097 (137829) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @12:47AM (#5332547)
    AltaVista was a weird alagam of old-school DEC engineers [like in their late 50s old-school], Bay Area tech folks and East Coast MBA frat weenies. It was a deadly combination.

    Rod Schrock and his Harvard b-school buds [his old roommate was one of our VPs], fresh from creating the Presario group at Compaq fled the sinking Compaq ship and headed for high ground in the Bay Area with dollar signs in their eyes. Knowing nothing about the Internet and what it meant or the realities of media business they decided to go after Yahoo instead of continuing their dominance of the search arena. They bought two absolute dogs [Zip2.com and shopping.com which was about 10 days from bankruptcy], then lost most of their product development team to another startup [where Louis Monyeaux (misspelled)] had just gone to. Undaunted, Schrock and friends dumped close to 100 million dollars total into the ill-fated "smart is beautiful" version of AV. A lot of that money went to USWEB CKS and Weidman Kennedy, $6 million for the overblown "launch event" in New York and the rest went to unqualified employees.

    A few months later [spring 2000], the market really starts tanking. CMGI pulls AV's IPO for the third time and things get really stupid. The smart employees start leaving and the idiots take full command. Several months later, Schrock is finally booted by CMGI but the damage is already done.

    I'd like to adknowledge the people who actually did their jobs and did them well during that period, namely the Search Engineering and Search Product Management groups [well, most of them but I won't name names here]. They were the ones who made AV great and fought futiley to keep it good. Fortunately, many of them landed at good places [like Barry at Google] but it was a long, unpleasant journey.
  • A lot about search engines lately. I think the obvious winner has already won and now only griping and complaining accompanied by cheerleading (see .sig for details) and smiling remains.

    It's like the browser wars, but it hasn't been beaten to death . . . yet

  • Google keeps their site clean and fast. They cruft it up as little as they reasonably can. Yahoo is a clot. Overture who?
  • by NigelJohnstone (242811) on Wednesday February 19, 2003 @04:23AM (#5333356)
    Bablefish is provided by Systrans (a French company), yet I don't see Overture offering anything like it.

    So maybe Systrans signed an exclusive with Alta-Vista and maybe thats what the big attraction is.

    Google is improving its translation, so Overture has to match. I don't see anything else in Alta-Vista thats worth the money.

  • I thought, great now it'll be easier to avoid them (Overture) like the plague, though maybe Overture has distribution that will make the search technology completely transparent? Thinking embedded searching in things..


    Google? Love em, but uneasily keep waiting for the other shoe to drop when they stop wanting to burn cash (which one would think they must be doing a lot of). When do the suits take over?

  • I hope that Google can continue to maintain their lead.

    Why? If they have more competition, they'll be more inclined to do whatever they can to increase the quality of their search engine to keep people coming back. And they obviously care, because the quality is how they got those people to begin with.

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