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Thursday, April 27, 2006
Yahoo Expands Global Services

Yahoo has launched a translation web page that brings the Babelfish service under the search engine's own brand.

The internet giant also announced plans to significantly develop its international portals, making features currently limited to U.S. users available globally.

Babelfish was initially developed by Altavista, which was acquired by Yahoo. The service is powered by Systran's translation software.

"We have reached a turning point where over half the pages on the web are in non-English," Tomi Poutanen, Senior Director of international product management at Yahoo, told "That drives the importance of translation services."

Yahoo furthermore plans to add a translation button to its toolbar, allowing users to view a translation of a web page with a single click. To date, users were able to manually add the button to the tool bar, but it will become a standard option.

The new web page will provide users in Germany and France with access to the Translated Search feature that has been available in those markets since last summer in a beta version.

It allows users to search foreign language web sites in their native tongue and view a translated version of the sites.

International Push

David Rice, Vice President of Product Strategy at Yahoo International, told reporters at the company's headquarters in Sunnyvale, California that the company had concentrated too much on the U.S. market in the past years.

"There was a major focus on the U.S. five years ago," he said, explaining that he wants the foreign portals to catch up within the next 12 months.

"I want to make sure that if you look at the German site or the French site, you find it comparable to the U.S. site."

While new products were developed by local teams for local markets, the company will now focus on providing translated versions that suit different nations and regions.Yahoo wishes to make the most of expertise in regions that are ahead of other parts of the world.

The company has established a "mobile center of excellence" in London, for example, to develop new applications for mobile devices. Yahoo has also opened research centers in Spain and Chile in the past six months.

Rice pointed out the Yammy service developed by Yahoo Korea, which allows consumers to upload and share videos. The service is similar to Google Video and YouTube, but Rice described it as "YouTube on steroids" because it offers better options for content sharing between users.

Rice declined to comment on the company's plans to launch Yammy outside Korea, citing a company policy of not commenting on future products.

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