Yahoo kicks off open search; Does it have the open platform street cred?

Yahoo announced plans to open up its search to third parties to enhance results. Following word of Yahoo's massive rollout of Hadoop the company appears hellbent on bolstering its open source street credibility.

Yahoo announced plans to open up its search to third parties to enhance results. Following word of Yahoo's massive rollout of Hadoop the company appears hellbent on bolstering its open source street credibility. Of course, the big question is whether these efforts can make a dent in Google's market share.

In its search blog, Yahoo outlined how it will allow third parties to tap into the various layers of the company's search to extend results and get people to where they want to go. What Yahoo has in mind is far easier to show than tell. Here's what Yahoo says will be the benefit of an open search model:

The before.

yelp_before-2.jpg

The after.

yelp_after-2.jpg

Yahoo's game plan is to allow Web site owners to provide more information into the company's database. It all makes a lot of sense and critical mass shouldn't be hard to attain. Why wouldn't a Web site owner take advantage of improving what a Yahoo user sees? Yahoo adds:

Site owners will be able to provide all types of additional information about their site directly to Yahoo! Search. So instead of a simple title, abstract and URL, for the first time users will see rich results that incorporate the massive amount of data buried in websites -- ratings and reviews, images, deep links, and all kinds of other useful data -- directly on the Yahoo! Search results page.

Users will be able to turn off the feature in case they just want the basics. Yahoo will outline a more details at SMX West today. Matt Cutts conveniently notes that Google has similar features to counter Yahoo's announcement.

I applaud the move and like the fact that Yahoo is showing some spunk on the search front. In the broader picture, Yahoo could tap into the open source community to really make a difference. But there's a problem. Often a company that doesn't start open source looks a little desperate when it finally flips the switch to an open model. In far too many cases, technology companies use open source as a Hail Mary pass when things look bleak.

I'm not saying that's what Yahoo is doing here, but I do wonder about the open source street credibility with Yahoo. Does Yahoo have it? Can it attain that street cred when Microsoft is hovering with a $44.6 billion bid? Does even the possibility of a Microsoft deal hurt Yahoo's openness mantra--even though the software giant has outlined its interoperability plans?

Those are just a few questions I wonder about as Yahoo goes more open amid a Microsoft takeover battle. Thoughts?

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