Google loses a battle "¦ but it may be the beginning of the end for the war

Last Tuesday, Google quietly announced it had lost a small battle. Google announced on the official Google Blog that they would be shutting down Google Answers. This seemed to pain a few people over at the Googleplex as it was one of the original products to come out of Google Labs. However, there were no sad faces in the next town over in Sunnyvale. In fact it appears Yahoo may have even been celebrating the demise in a not so subtle way. When you look at the numbers it becomes pretty clear why Google got out of the answers business and Yahoo is tooting their own horn. Yahoo Answers launched back in December 2005 and within 3 quick months quickly surpassed Google Answers 1.3 million unique visitors. Within 8 months of launching, Yahoo Answers managed nearly 10 times as many visitors as Google Answers in July. In the most recent month of data, Google Answers attracted less than 450,000 visitors while Yahoo Answers had over 7.6 million.

What about engagement? We all know Yahoo is the largest site on the web, but from a query perspective Google takes the cake by far. So maybe the few people that engage with Google Answers were actually using it more than Yahoo "¦ then again maybe not. Yahoo Answers actually managed to come out of the gate way back in December 2005 with nearly 3 times as many page views for each visitor to the site. Yahoo Answers page views peaked at nearly 18 page views per visitor in July 2006. Google Answers hasn’t gotten much above 2 during the entire period since Yahoo Answers launch

We spend a lot of time on this site and in the blogosphere talking about Google’s successes and even more time talking about the Google-Yahoo rivalry. The Google Answers shutdown should probably be marked in the "L column," but this may actually be the sign of a much bigger and more important industry wide trend. We may be hearing a lot less Yahoo vs. Google in the coming months/years. Yahoo and Google have been diverging in a number of recent moves. Maybe this means Larry and Sergey can have a cocktail with David and Jerry at the next Stanford reunion.

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