Yahoo! Audio Search

Yahoo!\'s new beta service will allow users to search over 50 million audio files of almost every type, writes Puneet Mehrotra.

| Updated on: Aug 09 2005, 14:55 IST

Search Every Spoken Word @ Yahoo

Traffic is the lifeline of any search engine. Last week Nielsen NetRatings reported the popularity of the top five search engines continues to grow. According to Nielsen Netratings the use of AOL and Ask Jeeves rose 15 and 16 per cent respectively, while Google and Yahoo! maintained single digit growth (six and nine per cent). Overall, search as a category saw a five per cent increase in the number of searches conducted from Q1 to Q2 during 2005.

In this heated competition each search engine is working hard to be one up. We as consumers are seeing new innovations, now almost on a fortnightly basis. The latest innovation is the Yahoo! Audio Search.

Yahoo! Audio Search

Yahoo! has introduced a new beta service called Yahoo! Audio Search. The new search will allow users to search over 50 million audio files of almost every type, including podcasts, music, and even spoken word.  Yahoo describes the service as 'the most open and comprehensive index of audio files on the Web' and has the capability to search popular and hard to find music, podcasts, interviews, speeches and newscasts, stand-up comedy and sound effects.

Yahoo has worked with several top music download services to help it create a comprehensive music search service. The search provides download links to iTunes, MSN Music, Napster, Yahoo's Music Unlimited, eMusic, and RealNetworks Rhapsody in addition to other online music stores.

The service also indexes podcasts, based on the meta-information embedded in the files and in podcast feeds.  According to John Thrall, head of multi-media search engineering at Yahoo Search, 'With Yahoo Audio Search, users have a starting point for finding all audio related content available on the web making it easy for users to find, use, share and expand their knowledge of audio-related content.

Booming Music Downloads

Just three weeks ago IFPI, International Federation of Phonographic Industries, had announced legal music downloads tripled in the first half of the year.  The number of legally downloaded songs increased threefold in the first half of this year. The number of downloaded songs increased from 57 million in the first half of 2004 and 100 million in the second half of that same year to 180 million so far this year.

300 legal web sites, 190 of them in 23 European countries plus subscription services like Apple's iTunes and Napster have also helped to encourage the surge, reporting an increase in members to 2.2 million from 1.5 million in January. Apple also recently claimed that its iPod quintupled its income to $320m. Currently Apple's iTunes has the largest selection, offering 1.5 million tracks. Napster is a close second offering 1.2 million tracks.

The Right Innovation

Yahoo! Audio Search seems to be the right innovation at the right time. The variety of content that can be searched is vast. Hard to find music, podcasts, interviews, speeches and newscasts, stand-up comedy and sound effects in good variety offered to the user. Besides partnerships of Yahoo! with services such as iTunes, Yahoo! Music Unlimited, GarageBand, eMusic, Napster amongst others will prove to be mutually beneficial for the user and the music company. If a song is for sale by a music site, such as iTunes or Napster, Yahoo Audio will link to a Web page where it can be purchased.

The war of the titans, Yahoo versus MSN versus Google, seems to be throwing up new innovations almost every fortnight. The winner this week is definitely Yahoo! MSN and Google have yet to offer something of this kind. Good work Yahoo!

Puneet Mehrotra is a web strategist at and edits you can email him on puneet

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First Published Date: 09 Aug, 14:55 IST
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