Yahoo's high-profile and widely used search APIs (application programming interfaces) and search programs for external developers are up in the air after the company's decision to outsource its search engine services to Microsoft.
This uncertainty is causing concern among developers who have spent time and resources using Yahoo search APIs and programs like
BOSS (Build Your Own Search Service) and Search Monkey.
[ For more Microsoft-Yahoo news on InfoWorld, see "Microsoft, Yahoo deal was a long time in the making" and "Microsoft and Yahoo are said to have reached a deal" ]
In the wake of Wednesday's announcement of the deal with Microsoft, Yahoo is doing little to dispel the worries of search developers it has until now aggressively courted.
Asked for comment about how the Microsoft deal will affect Yahoo's search developer initiatives, Yahoo was noncommittal.
"This is the beginning of a process and we'll be working with Microsoft to determine what makes the best sense for both us and developers," a company spokeswoman said via e-mail.
Yahoo will continue to innovate on the search user experience and will continue to engage with developers "on several fronts," she said.
"Over the next several months we'll determine what makes sense with our developer offerings and provide information when available," the spokeswoman said.
At startup Buildasearch.com, which uses Yahoo BOSS to power its search-engine building service, the news of the Microsoft deal has made executive Diego Montalvo nervous.
"Yahoo Search has probably met its fate, and that's a shame," he said.
If Yahoo is going to use Microsoft's Bing search engine, it stands to reason that Yahoo's search developer tools will disappear, since it wouldn't make sense for Yahoo to continue running its search technology just for developers, he said. "It's very upsetting."
Montalvo is seriously considering the proactive move of re-architecting his company's service for the Bing API.
He also predicts that given the uncertainty over Yahoo search developer initiatives, there's likely to soon be a massive exodus of developers.
IDC analyst Al Hilwa concurs that the future of Yahoo's search developer initiatives is uncertain and understands developers' unrest. "It's legitimate for developers to worry right now and try to seek answers and commitments," he said.
"From the outline of the deal, it appears that Yahoo is pulling out of search. Having Microsoft technology powering Yahoo search calls into question [the future of] any Yahoo search APIs and algorithms for search," Hilwa added.
However, Hilwa cautions developers against panicking. The deal may fall apart if government regulators object to it, and if it gets government approval, the process could take a long time, he said.
Then, after getting approval, the deal will not be fully implemented for another two years, as acknowledged by Microsoft and Yahoo in Wednesday's press release, so Yahoo search developer tools may remain untouched for a long time, Hilwa said.
"My advice to developers is nuanced. Since change won't happen for some time and in the meantime Yahoo search continues to operate as is, my advice for people with ready-to-roll-out projects is to go forward with them. However, if you're starting a new project, think twice," he said.