Yahoo (YHOO) is introducing Axis this week, the dot-com pioneer's bold attempt at simplifying search on a browser.
Axis -- which is now available for Apple's (AAPL) iPhone and iPad as well as in plug-in form for users of desktop browsers Firefox, Safari, Google's (GOOG) Chrome, and Microsoft's (MSFT) Internet Explorer -- offers users a streamlined search experience.
Most queries generate a page populated with thumbnails of relevant results. The goal here is to sidestep the navigational process of going through a bunch of links, even if that's where most search engines make their money.
Searching for Clues
Yahoo is technically out of the paid search business these days. It's getting paid meaty royalties by Microsoft for letting Bing handle the company's search. But it's still a bold move to try to reinvent the search process in a manner that may result in a decline in ad revenue.
However, hit-starved Yahoo has little to lose here. If Axis takes off, the company can drum up ways to monetize the process later. It's really just a matter of turning sponsored links into sponsored tiles.
Generating buzz is simply the first step. If Axis doesn't take off -- and every Internet company has countless initiatives that fizzle out -- the monetization point will be moot anyway.
An All Axis Pass
One of the selling points of Axis is that it integrates across several online devices -- assuming that your mobile devices are Apple-flavored. A registered user with Axis can go from browsing the Web on a desktop to switching over to an iPad or iPhone and Axis will pick up where the session on the other device left off.
In other words, if you're searching for a pet groomer on your PC and find one you like, you can have that page immediately load into the Axis running on your iPhone as you're escorting your hairy pooch into your car.
Some worrywarts may not be happy with having their browsing habits tracked that way, but there are also plenty of people who can appreciate the cross-platform synchronization.
Yahoo will have an uphill battle with Axis, but every revolution starts with a single step forward.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Microsoft, and Google, and creating bull call spread positions in Microsoft and Apple.