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Google and Yahoo Still Remain Popular

Silicon Valley rivals Yahoo and Google are located only minutes from each other at the southern end of the Silicon Valley not far from San Francisco, California. VOA's Barry Wood visited both companies and found them determined to retain their enormous popularity with Internet users.

Google is a stunning success. It was founded in 1998 by two graduate students who developed a unique way to organize material on the Internet. Today Google dominates Internet search worldwide. And it has become very rich.

The company is moving into new areas--email, video, maps and digitizing the world's books.

Adam Smith is the Product Manager for Google Book Search. "Our overall objective is to make the full text of all the word's books, in all languages and cultures, searchable, as Web pages are searchable today."

Smith says this controversial project poses no threat to authors and publishers. "From Google's perspective this actually increases the value of books. We can connect you to books you may never have known existed."

Yahoo and Google both emphasize youth, informality and freedom, and having fun while you work. Yahoo, which is three years older than Google, has been losing advertising revenue to its rival and is well behind in Internet search.

Yahoo front doors vice president Tapan Bhat says Yahoo leads in e-mail and is the world's busiest Internet portal. "The Yahoo home page is the most visited page on the Internet."

Despite having home pages in 21 languages, Tapan Bhat says there is a remarkable cross-cultural similarity in what users want from the Internet. "When we ask people what they want as an ideal page that helps you start on the Internet, they said these three things--connect to people and information they care about, be part of their daily routine, and tell them what is happening."

Jeff Bonforte is Yahoo's director of real time communications. He says Yahoo instant messaging has 70 million users, most of them outside the United States. "I was in Viet Nam earlier this year. Every machine I looked at had Yahoo Messenger installed on the desktop. Every machine, every café, every office."

Instant messaging, he says, is booming, particularly video. "Because instant messenger is a discreet relationship between two parties. I know you. You know me. I call it a dashboard, I keep a dashboard of family and friends on my desktop at all times."

Google has raced ahead of Yahoo. Its shares sell for more $500 and its market value is four times greater than the combined worth of Ford and General Motors.