Kara Swisher

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Yahoo Upgrades Search Experience With "Accordion"–As It Ports Over Tech to Microsoft

Tonight, Yahoo is introducing a new set of search upgrades, moving to focus on boosting its experience for consumers as it ports responsibility for underlying search technology over to Microsoft under its new partnership.

The new features include an innovative, if odd, vertical “accordion” tab.

“We have been actively working on the algorithmic transition of search, which was completed in August, and we are already releasing new features to the search experience,” said Shashi Seth, SVP of Yahoo Search and Marketplaces, in an interview with BoomTown today. “Since we are not actively spending a lot of energy on back-end stuff, we can focus our efforts on new things.”

Among the new enhancements to Yahoo (YHOO) search: A vertical “accordion” paradigm with shortcuts on search results that allow for new kinds of information presentation; “quick apps,” beginning with one for Netflix (NFLX) that lets its members add movies to their queue directly from the search results page; slideshows within search from the “Trending Now” lists on Yahoo; more immersive and theater-style photo and video search, as well as “the ability for people to view personally meaningful public Facebook albums from friends,” when they sign in to Facebook; and a new mobile search experience for Apple (AAPL) iPhone and Google Android smartphones, as well as feature phones, that uses HTML5 technology.

“We wanted users to see that things had changed dramatically,” said Seth. “Consumer needs for search engines have changed.”

He said that in testing so far, engagement–an increasingly important measure for advertisers–had spiked with the new features, especially in “taking search from an information need to action at an end.”

Seth promised a “huge pipeline of stuff” to come in search, where the Silicon Valley Internet giant holds the No. 2 position in market share, well behind Google (GOOG) and ahead of the Microsoft (MSFT) Bing service.

Both Google and Microsoft have been adding a series of search upgrades over the last year, such as Google Instant, while Yahoo has not.

Yahoo has a blog post up about it here.

And here are some screenshots, as well as the official press release and an overview by Yahoo of the new search features (click on the images to make them bigger):

Yahoo! Makes Searching More Relevant, Productive and Fun

New features help people explore their interests and do more

SUNNYVALE, Calif., October 7, 2010–Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO) today introduced new Search enhancements that will help millions of people be entertained, productive, and informed anywhere they are across Yahoo!. Leveraging Yahoo!’s rich content and robust technology platforms, these new Yahoo! Search features will help people get to the entertainment and news content they care about on all connected devices–and do more with the things they find.

“Our goal is to understand what people care about and to make it fun for them to explore the most personally relevant, interesting, and informative content so that they can get things done faster and stay in the know,” said Shashi Seth, senior vice president, Yahoo! Search and Marketplaces. “Yahoo!’s new immersive Search is a cornerstone of the overall Yahoo! experience, creating more ways to connect people with whatever and whoever interests them.”

To start using the new enhancements, go to Yahoo.com and search for topics such as “Lady Gaga” or “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.” The features include 3D multifaceted results and tools that let people:

• Cut to the chase–Intelligent shortcuts for movies, musical artists, celebrities and news topics conveniently organize the most important details such as images, articles, videos, tweets, event listings, and ratings. They also provide quick and easy ways to purchase movie or concert tickets while searching.

• Find favorite flicks–The first in a series of unique “quick apps” from Yahoo! Search, a new Web app for Netflix provides an easy way for Netflix members to add movies to their Queue right from the Search results page. In the coming months, Yahoo! plans to launch additional apps that change the search paradigm from finding to doing.

• Watch what’s happening now–Continuing to bring Search to more people in more places across Yahoo!, the company is helping people feed their curiosity by displaying image slideshows right above the standard results for interesting topics from Yahoo!’s Trending Now lists on Yahoo.com and elsewhere.

• Lean back and browse more pictures–An immersive new Yahoo! Image Search delivers engaging slideshows with public photos from Flickr and Yahoo!’s leading content sites, as well as the ability for people to view personally meaningful public Facebook albums from friends when they sign-in and connect their Yahoo! accounts to Facebook.

• Search on the go–Android and iPhone users can now get faster, more sophisticated Search results, thanks to the latest HTML5 technology. Rich content on entertainment, finance, and local topics is surfaced in more unique and compelling ways for high-end mobile devices.

Working toward its vision to be the center of people’s online lives, Yahoo! is dedicated to re-imagining Search by creating new ways to bring people closer to what they need and want on the Web. Today’s visually stunning new Search experiences throughout the Yahoo! network, along with innovative technology enhancements and quality improvements for rich local and shopping searches, all supplement organic algorithmic Search listings from the recently transitioned Microsoft search platform. Yahoo! expects current and future innovations to redefine Yahoo! Search and drive greater consumer engagement and loyalty.

New features began rolling out to Search users across the U.S. today, and Yahoo! expects to launch them for additional global markets in 2011.

Search Launch Overview Oct 2010

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I’m a giant vat of creative juices.

— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo