Yahoo! Launches Axis - Its New Search Engine
Yahoo! is joining the battle to redefine Internet search and taking aim at building a better Web browser, too.
The troubled Internet company is taking its shot with a new tool it calls "Axis" that alters browsers made by other companies so search results can be displayed in a more convenient and compelling format.
Yahoo! released Axis in Apple's app store. That version will work only on Apple's iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The software also can be installed as a plug-in on most major browsers used on desktop computers and laptops. Apps for other mobile devices are in the works.
Browsers running Axis can display search results in a panorama of visual thumbnails that can be scrolled through above a Web page. It's a departure from search engines' traditional presentation of a list of staid Web links that require more navigation and guesswork.
Last week, Google unveiled a new search feature called a "Knowledge Graph" that seeks to provide more immediate answers by highlighting information from a database containing more than 500 million entries about people, places and other commonly requested things.
Yahoo! is counting on Axis to reverse its steadily declining share of the Internet's lucrative search market and drive more traffic to its own website from the growing audience of people surfing the Web on smartphones and tablet computers.
Although Axis works on desktop browsers, its greatest appeal figures to be on mobile devices. That's because the search results can be seen at the top of the device just by flicking on whatever page might be on the screen at the time. With that, the relevant results appear in a ribbon across the top of the page. Each result appears as a snapshot of the pertinent Web page, making it easier for users to find the right information.
Much like Google's Knowledge Graph, Axis draws its results from a custom-built index. Most of the data in the Axis index resides on Yahoo!'s own services. If Axis cannot find answers there, it presents links from Bing's search index.
Yahoo! will not show ads next to Axis search results initially, but the company believes the visual format will be ideal for video commercials and graphical marketing.
In an effort to make Axis even more useful, Yahoo! plans to store search activity on its servers so users can have access to their past activity on any computer or mobile device where they log in. Axis will accept the logins that people use on Google and Facebook, as well as Yahoo!.