Steve Rubel points to a Bloomberg news article, Yahoo! gives up quest for search dominance, examining Yahoo CFO Susan Decker saying "It's not our goal to be No. 1 in Internet search. We would be very happy to maintain our market share."
I talked with the story's writer, Jonathan Thaw, for the article. Jonathan was intrigued by Yahoo seeming to give up in the challenge to beat Google. Heck, I was as well.
It's important to note that Decker's talking about search market share. Yahoo may not think it possible to overtake Google in terms of actual searchers, and saying that up front lowers some expectations among investors that are expecting to see gains.
Still, if Yahoo's not expecting to overtake Google -- and it's the firm number two player -- it doesn't speak much to MSN's chances to rise.
As I said in the Bloomberg article, it still seems like you would want being number one as a goal, even if you think it may be unrealistic or one that will take a long time to achieve. Certainly saying you're number two to your employees and consumers isn't very inspiring. At least Avis put a spin on their embracing of being number two all those years ago, to say it was better for consumers because "We try harder."
Steve definitely wasn't inspired by the Yahoo news, saying he's no longer going to use Yahoo:
I have no interest in using a product that the company doesn't aspire to make best of breed. If search is no longer hip to Yahoo, then Yahoo Search is no longer hip with me.
Again, Decker did NOT say that Yahoo was uninterested in search nor that they thought they were number two in terms of quality. She was speaking about market share and how Yahoo didn't plan to overtake Google in winning users away. But point taken -- saying your goal isn't to be number one in one particular area can spill into others.
Want to comment or discuss? Visit our Search Engine Watch Forums thread, Yahoo: We're OK Being Number Two.