Yahoo! moves to reclaim Internet search crown

Yahoo! has set out to reclaim the Internet search crown from Google with the release of software that transforms the way users explore the Web using Apple's coveted gadgets.

A Yahoo! Axis application was introduced for iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touch devices and also as "plug-in" software for Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox and other Web browsers featuring HTML-5 graphics capabilities.

"Yahoo! is still very much in search," special projects product management director Ethan Batraski said while giving AFP an advance look at Axis. "We continue to flourish."

Axis does away with the blue links that have defined Internet query results for a decade and replaced them with previews of pages that might provide the information being sought.

The application lets users easily "swipe" from one Web page to another or review a pull-down strip of preview pages instead of making them click on links to see what websites look like.

"We removed the entire search results page from the equation for a game-changing search experience," Batraski said.

"The entire search experience is in the app," he continued. "You will never have to use Safari ever again."

Safari is the Web browsing program Apple builds into its devices.

The Axis search results pane instantly displays information of potential interest, such as the score from a most recent game if the query is a sports team.

Yahoo! also made it simple to email, tweet, "pin," or bookmark pages with touches of screens.

Axis also gives users the option of synching pages across devices, so that driving directions, movie times or other pages left open on one gadget will automatically display on another, the demonstration showed.

"I could easily start something on my iPad and continue on my iPhone," Batraski said. "The goal here is to connect all my devices together."

Clicks of side tabs replace swipes in the plug-in version of Axis for desktop computer browsing software.

For now, Yahoo! is not displaying ads in Axis because the focus is on winning users before weaving in ways to make money without marring the smooth experience.

Yahoo! has been steadily losing ground to Google in the Internet search market. Google's share inched up to 66.5 percent in April while Yahoo!'s portion slipped a fraction to 13.5 percent, according to comScore.

Microsoft's Bing was the second most popular search service, handling 15.4 percent of queries, the industry tracker reported.

Yahoo! in 2009 made a deal with Microsoft to have Bing handle the labor-intensive job of finding and indexing content on the Internet, freeing itself to concentrate on interesting or personalized ways to present results.

"We outsourced a backend process that every search engine was trying to do," Batraski said.

"It is grunt work and we are really focused on innovating."

Axis became available at Apple's online App Store late Wednesday.

Axis will be begin rolling out to France, Britain and a few other countries by the end of the year, according to Batraski.

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