Yahoo last week gave its users the ability to find flight information directly from their searches.
When users type in a flight number, they are offered information on the flight's progress that is displayed through Travelocity, complete with a map that charts the plane's route, altitude and speed.
The flight information option is one of several shortcuts added to Yahoo's search engine since it was revamped in April. Users can get instant answers to queries for things such as weather conditions, maps and news. A search for “Blockbuster in Palo Alto” yields a yellow pages listing for the video store and a map to it.
Yahoo is not alone in making search engines a place to find information directly rather than just related Web sites that contain the information. Such conveniences are thought necessary to maintain loyalty among searchers. Yahoo trails Google in the search market, accounting for 25.9 percent to Google's 35.2 percent in October, according to comScore Media Metrix. Yahoo executives estimate that each percentage share of the search market is worth $200 million in revenue for the company.
Google has a growing number of shortcuts, most recently adding package shipping from United Parcel Service and patent searches. Google also offers flight information.
Ask Jeeves offers similar options under what it calls “Smart Answers.” In addition to the usual information provided by Google and Yahoo, Ask Jeeves directly answers questions like, “What is the capital of Russia?”
Yahoo's search shortcuts are independent of Google, which still supplies Yahoo's algorithmic search results. Yahoo is expected to replace Google with its own Inktomi search technology shortly.