Danny Sullivan writes about the rapid growth of Yahoo! Answers in Search Day. The growth of the application is quite impressive.
Yahoo! execs have touted Answers and the company's larger social media strategy as a way to regain search share from Google. Yet, simultaneous with the growth of Answers has come the continued growth of Google as search share leader.
My belief is that Answers is a different kind of application and use case than general web search (Danny likens it to Wikipedia and I would tend to agree). Answers will undoubtedly continue to grow but it won't necessarily supplant Google as a search starting point. But, in a way, it may not matter ultimately — though it matters to Wall Street and the press — because Answers is creating considerable, valuable search-like ad inventory for Yahoo!
If Yahoo! Answers is as well indexed, going forward, as Wikipedia has been that may, ironically, leverage Google's search volumes to drive "free" traffic to Yahoo!, where it can then be monetized with text and/or graphical ads. (if Google is "page 1" of search for many people, a product like answers may be "page 2," with each step being more targeted.)
Here's my previous post on the challenge Yahoo! faces in bringing all its social media assets together.