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Yahoo tops Google in customer satisfaction survey

But don't count out Ask.com, the survey's author says

By Linda Rosencrance
August 14, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - For the first time, Yahoo Inc. has replaced Google Inc. as the No. 1 portal of choice, according to a customer satisfaction survey released today.

Yahoo's score is up 4% to 79 on the 100-point scale of the annual University of Michigan American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) on e-business Web sites. While Yahoo's stock among users is rising, Google's is on the wane, according to the report. Google fell 3.7% to 78, the second time in as many years that its score declined.

The results indicate a battle brewing between the two Internet giants.

Yahoo is emerging as the leading portal, fighting Google and losing for the search business, while Google is the leader in search, fighting Yahoo and losing dominance as a portal, Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results, which sponsors the ACSI report, said in a statement.

"Even more important than Yahoo's first lead over Google is the trend of their scores moving in opposite directions," Freed said. "Since the ACSI is a leading indicator of financial performance on the macro scale and at the company level, we may see a real turnaround for Yahoo in the next year."

"Yahoo is pleased with the results of this year's ACSI study, which reflect our continued efforts to enhance the consumer experience for our more than 500 million users of Yahoo-branded properties around the world," said Yahoo spokeswoman Meagan Busath in a statement e-mailed to Computerworld. "We believe that this trend will continue as we further leverage our user insights, continue to open up the Yahoo network, and solidify our position as the partner of choice for advertisers, publishers and developers."

"We are continually working to provide the best online experience for our users and welcome strong competition that helps drive market innovation," said a Google spokeswoman in a statement via e-mail.

For Yahoo to gain ground on Google in the search market, Yahoo would have to develop an "incredible and far more effective search technology," which seems unlikely because of the investments the companies have already made in search technology, Freed said in the statement.

In the search market, Google should worry about IAC Search & Media's Ask.com, Freed said.

Up 5.7% from last year to a score of 75, Ask.com rang up this year's biggest increase in the Internet portals/search engines category of the ACSI rankings, while AOL.com posted the biggest decline, down more than 9% to 67, Freed said.

"Ask.com is making huge inroads on the other competitors in the portal and search engine category," Freed said. "And it has done this despite a second relaunch this year, which was apparently carried off so well that it didn't have the usual backlash of dropping customer satisfaction scores. Ask.com has mastered the crucial mix of evolution and revolution."



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