The search engine war intensified last week when Yahoo! and Lycos added major community-building features to their services.
In a move to offer free e-mail, Yahoo! acquired Four11 Corp., known for its free e-mail service Rocket Mail and its directory of telephone White Pages.
Yahoo! Mail competes with free e-mail services from Excite and Lycos and is Yahoo!'s first acquisition.
A STICKY APPLICATION
"This is a way for us to get new users and get deeper with our existing users," said Karen Edwards, director of marketing at Yahoo!. "`E-mail is a great sticky application, which means people come back to you, time and time again."
The personalization available in My Yahoo! and Yahoo! Mail solicit names and preferences from users, Ms. Edwards added, which will help it offer more targeted ads.
Yahoo! also closed an important distribution deal with Gateway 2000 and Compaq Computer Corp.--in which icons for My Yahoo!, Yahoo! Search and My Yahoo! News Ticker--will be bundled on the desktop in a version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 4.0.
Similarly, Lycos rounded out services that support its ad campaign theme, "Your Personal Internet Guide," by introducing free LycosEmail and instant messaging, supplied by Globe Comm's iName, a personalized e-mail service. It also added Lycos Chat and BBS, using chat software developer e-Share Technologies, which will moderate chat sessions taking place in each of Lycos' 17 Web Guide topic areas.
FIRST AND LAST STOP
Other new services include a GeoCities' home pages search engine, and the Lycos Personalized Guide, which was introduced last month. "Lycos is your first stop and your last," said Mark Stoever, Lycos communities marketing product manager, referring to the search engine's strategy.
Infoseek Corp. also expanded its community services last week, joining NBC on a co-branded search and local information area within the NBC Interactive Neighborhood.
Search engines are "looking for ways to give users higher functionality, which in turn builds loyalty," said Paul Noglows, digital media analyst at Hambrecht & Quist in San Francisco. They're realizing "they need to stay competitive with the scope and breadth of their offerings."
Copyright October 1997, Crain Communications Inc.