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Yahoo has made a lot of big mistakes over the years, and today it finds itself in the fight of its life to stay relevant on the modern web.

The big questions: what can Yahoo do to recapture some of its past glory, if anything at all?

One possible answer is so obvious that nobody thought of it earlier: build a browser.

Yesterday, Yahoo unveiled Axis, "a new kind of browser that redefines what it means to search and browse the web".

What, you might ask, can Yahoo really add to the browser game? A lot more than many of might have expected apparently. As News.com's Rafe Needleman explains, Yahoo Axis isn't your typical browser:

On Axis, there are no search result pages.

Instead, what you get when you search, at least 80 percent of the time, Batraski says, is a horizontal display of Web page thumbnails. (The other 20 percent of the time you get text boxes with results in them.) It's easy to see if one of the pages is what you're looking for, and then you can go there directly. To see the tiles again and go to other results, you just pull down the page from the top. To move forward or backward in the list of results directly from a page you're on, you drag your finger from the right or left. bypassing the results list entirely.

Needleman observes that this may not help Yahoo turn Axis searches into revenue initially, although the company has plans to insert ads into the list of search tiles. But for now, it is focusing on creating a new kind of browser experience.

That, judging from the reactions to Axis, may be a smart move. AllThingsDigital's Kara Swisher writes -- with some astonishment, that Axis is "innovative." She likens it to a "Pinterest of search." Engadget's team was able to test the browser and says "we largely like what we see." For Gizmodo's Molly Oswaks, Axis not only "doesn't suck," it's "actually kinda cool".

One important point is that Axis is really a browser extension for IE, Chrome, Firefox and Safari (iPad and iPhone apps are available too). Will that matter? Perhaps not. In fact, by building a new experience that can work with your existing browser, Yahoo may have stumbled onto a clever way to gain more rapid adoption for Axis.

If Axis takes off, which may or may not happen, the question becomes what it actually accomplishes for Yahoo. Even with massive use, the revenue potential seems debatable. But one thing is certain: if Yahoo can prove that it still has the ability to build innovative new consumer experiences, it could provide a much-needed boost to the company's battered ego. And that shouldn't be undervalued.

Patricio Robles

Published 24 May, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2393 more posts from this author

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Paul Gill

May I add my name to the list of people who don't like it?

1. On the desktop, the upward reveal upon clicking in the search means that the user's attention is down where they clicked (where it ends up saying "web search") whilst all the action is happening a couple of hundred pixels up their screen.

2. The R and L arrows overlaid halfway up the screen get in the way and are too easily clickable; it's not clear that they are meant to scroll through alternative search results from your initial query so once you've clicked around a bit, clicking on one of them whisks you away to somewhere you're not expecting.

3. On touch devices horizontal scroll is nice. On desktops with a mouse it's an awkward way of scanning through list of search results.

over 4 years ago

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Richard Burns

Absolutely love it. Intuitive. Easy to use. Visual. Its everything I expected Apple would include in their browser if they got into search.

For the coders and accountants out there its not going to be fun. They like their text lists.

For everyone else its going to be a huge hit.

Think of Pinterest for search.

over 4 years ago

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Arpita

Hi Patricio Robles,

Thanks for sharing this nice post.

Yahoo is evolving to keep up with other search engines.The Yahoo Browser is really a success in the web world.

Thanks again
Regards

over 4 years ago

Matthew Oxley

Matthew Oxley, Head Of Search at Truly Digital Media Limited

I've installed this addon for Firefox this morning - so far I like it, but I'm not sure it actually saves me time.

What this will probably come down to is speed - if the extension doesn't slow the browser down, then it's a legitimate extension.

over 4 years ago

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Jon Leon

Ok, so I've just tried it and my initial experience is good. The small browser bar doesn't take up much screen space and it's easy to see the sites that appear.

Time will tell if this is just a fun gimmick or a serious contender but it does say to me that strong visuals are important. I definitely went for the sites that looked good and had good pictures of what I was searching for first.

This is ok in a B2C retail space as good pictures of products should be standard, it's a bit more of a challenge for more formal B2B websites though.

I'd recommend giving Axis a try, it's pretty cool.

over 4 years ago

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Shane

Its not a new browser!! Its a addon! Unless it is on the mobile platforms but seems like just a addon to me!

A little misleading !

over 4 years ago

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