Saying that Yahoo! represents possibly the biggest success story on the Internet isn't just hype. The brainchild of David Filo and Jerry Yang, two Stanford University students, who started cataloguing and characterising Web sites as a hobby, it has become a standard tool for tracking down a particular site, be it Batman or Bognor Regis Tourist Board, on the Net. According to a recent survey it is also the best- known Internet brand name.
Where Yahoo! scores over other search engines is in its directory system. Other search engines ask you to key in a word or string of words which throw up reams of unrelated and irrelevant Web sites, but Yahoo! users can drill down through different levels of categories until they find precisely what they want. Yahoo! also depends more on the input of human beings than other such services. Interactivity at its best.
Last September, Yahoo! launched separate services for the UK and Ireland, France and Germany, hot on the heels of its Japanese version. But why should a medium that knows no borders need a specifically British version?
'We launched it in such a way that if you go through the hierarchy in the UK it’s slightly different,’ says Ralph Averbuch, producer for Yahoo! UK and Ireland, on a short visit to his home city of Edinburgh.
'Web sites that are geographically relevant come first,’ Averbuch says, adding that the emphasis on how they categorise certain subjects is treated differently. ’For instance, under "Culture", let's say, we’ve got Royalty fairly high up the list, because, whether you love them or hate them, the Royals are more
relevant to us. And, of course, we use the Queen’s English as opposed to international English!’
So successful is this approach that there are already separate Yahoo! services for American cities like Seattle and Washington. ’lt’s maybe not something that’s just around the corner yet for the UK,’ says Averbuch. ’There’s still a lot of growth to happen before it would be justified. But I can see a point in the future where we're likely to have a Yahoo! Glasgow and a Yahoo!
Although it has dipped a toe into the water of ’push'
Ralph Averbuch: the (Scots)man from Yahoo!
technology (whereby you can have information sent direct to your desktop rather than trawling around for it) with a program called ’My Yahool’, Yahoo! has no plans to turn itself into an empire of online services, handling Internet connection and e-mail like AOL or
’If we had a mission statement, it would be to help people find what they are looking for,’ Averbuch says. 'We’re not so much the car that gets you from A to B as
I Yahoo! UK can be found at http://www. yahoocouk
Now you might think that the magazine racks in your local newsagent already have enough computer magazmes, but apparently not. Future Publishing has just launched yet another goide to the Internet.
Connect promises to cut out the techno-babble that fills other mags, and pomt the very definitely laddish reader towards the best content the Web has to offer. Each issue WIH include over 250 Web site reViews, and comes complete wrth the now ubiquitous CD-ROM cover-mount This enables readers to access selected multi-media clips from the Internet Without the frustrations of lengthy downloads, as well as offering instant access to the mag's top 100 sites.
This all sounds very jolly, and Future has a good reputation for this type of magazine, but is there really room for another computer-orientated title? Jennifer Press, a spokesperson for Future, is enthusiastic about Connect's future. 'All the other magazines are Quite dry, and filled with detail,' she says. 'There's nothing else like Connect.’ Press Views the mag as both a beginner's guide, givrng a taste of what the Web is like, and a more experienced user’s directory, highlighting the latest content.
This is certainly a fair appraisal of Connect, but it Will be interesting to see how it is faring in a year’s time. (John Henderson)
I Connect is available now from all major newsagents priced f 4. 99.
HOME SHOPPING Tesco CD-ROM
Tesco is at present testing an online shopping service that offers over 20,000 product lines. Although the experiment is currently limited to various stores in London and Leeds, the supermarket is looking to expand the service.
Any customer currently living in one of the trial areas can apply for a CD-ROM that lists all groceries available in their local store. They can then fill their virtual shopping trolley with whatever they want, and the software will transmit their order to the store. The goodies will be delivered at whatever time is requested, by a nice man in a Tesco van. The charge for the service is £5 per order.
When asked how soon this couch potato’s dream will roll out nationwide, Nick Lansley, Senior Systems Engineer at the supermarket, draws an analogy with the expansion of the mobile phone networks. ’lt's a learning curve for us, and we are gently increasing the load,’ he says. He hopes that Tesco will introduce twenty or thirty new stores a year to the scheme, concentrating initially on high-density urban areas.
So will your PC become the supermarket of the future? Not according to Lansley. ’lt's not going to replace shopping, but it will act as a complementary service,’ he says. He sees it aimed mainly at people who can’t physically get to a store, such as those who work long hours or who don't have much mobility.
Stores such as Marks & Spencer already offer a home delivery service, but you have to visit the shop first to choose your groceries. The advantage of Tesco’s service is that you never have to set foot out of the house to have the supplies delivered to your doorstep.
You do however, need a powerful PC complete with CD-ROM drive, which for some of those most likely to benefit from the service, such as your elderly granny, is not very likely.
If you do possess the computing power and want to keep up to date with which stores are joining the scheme, your best bet is the Tesco web site at www.tesco.co.uk, but until your local supermarket gets online, you‘re just going to have to go out for the milk. (John Henderson)
Off your trolley: swap you're Clubcard for Tesco's new home shopping CD ROM
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13—26 Jun 1997 THEUST101