What Will the World Do with More Search Engines?

I was going through a very interesting article on Time by Douglas McIntyre about the world of search engines as Microsoft has recently called its search engine project “Kumo.”

Microsoft argues that if its search engine brings back more relevant results than Google or Yahoo! that people will eventually migrate to the “best” product. That may not be true. Google has become a habit for more than two-thirds of the people. Kumo may be just as good as Google, although the largest search engine keeps improving and adding to its functions. It is far too early to tell whether Microsoft can pick up a single new user even if its product is 99% as good as Google in the eyes of most people.
A cult has developed around Google, just as it has around Apple and its Mac and iPhone products. Loyalty is not always the by-product of function, although function often creates loyalty. Search is facing the same problem as the chip business. Intel  and AMD make semiconductors that are so powerful that very few PC buyers can use all of their computational power. Upgrading to a more powerful processor does not mean much to people who cannot tell the difference. That leaves a few corps and ppl who play complex video games as the only discriminating buyers of PCs with ultra-powerful processors. Just 3-4 years ago, the difference between one generation of semiconductor and another meant something to the casual PC user. The chips are too good now, almost no one cares that a new Intel product can make 1 billion computations a second.
Creating a new search engine is a tremendous risk at this stage because it is remarkably expensive to build and market one that has any chance in the mass market. To make the proposition harder, not only do people prefer Google to other products, but most people will not be able to tell whether a search product coming to market now is better or not. Good is so excellent that it is not good any more.
What do you think?
Original Article: http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1899804,00.html


  • It seems all these companies keep thinking that “new” and “more” equals “better” but I just wish there would be one good search engine (or that Google would go back to as good as it used to be).

  • Stop using others. Only one can dominate.
    They have a long way to go to pass Google, which has 64% share. And Google is angling to buy or joint-venture with Twitter for faster updates. In any event it constantly is improving its various applications. Microsoft will have a lot of ground to make up, even if it buys Yahoo’s engine/app.
    All that said, Alta Vista used to be tops. So leaders can falter.

  • What it has done with more computer languages, more operating systems. It will ignore them.
    Remember altavista.com?

  • I think the difference here is that Google helped define Search, while MS is trying to cash in on it. MS, of course, can afford to take the risk, hoping that they can unseat Google. After all, they did it to 1-2-3 with Excel, and WordPerfect with Word. But Google’s always been gleefully innovative, which is why it left Altavista in the dust. And, lately, inspired innovation hasn’t seemed to be MS’ strong point. I miss the old MS.

  • I think that different search engines will draw different audiences due to the algorithms they use as well as marketing.
    I think search engines need to find a way to evolve in such a way as to close the gap between the time Internet usage evolves, for example, Twitter, Facebook, Linked, YouTube, etc. and search engines adapt.
    Search engines are analogous to McDonald’s in that they provide something you want but also get something they want. In the case of McDonald’s it is real estate whereas with search engines it’s ad space real estate.
    Just as some fast food places come and go some search engines will do the same so it will all balance out.

  • It definitely would be hard to steal much of Google’s market share. From public opinion to quality of services present and upcoming, they are a though act to follow.
    Though it has been said many times that one of Microsoft’s greatest strengths is the ability to throw money at a known problem and develop (or buy) a pretty decent if not better solution.
    And a number of people seem to feel that there is room for improvement in the search marketplace. It’s not necessarily about adding more utilities to existing engines. Many people feel that the main search results are getting crufty these days. The ease of web publishing means that more people create more content with less oversight. That content is maintained longer or worse left available and forgotten about. There is room for improvement in determining recent, relevant and definitive content from all the garbage and sometimes each other. Maybe that is just another utility, but maybe it’s a rebuilt ranking system. I certainly don’t know.
    Google is the best, but there is room for improvement. If Google doesn’t advance the space, someone else will and Microsoft is one likely candidate.
    Just another 2¢ for you.
    The video linked below isn’t entirely relevant, but it does contain some interesting comments on situations that websites and/or Google can handle better in order to improve search results.
    * http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWHfY_lvKIQ

  • They’ll only use Google…

  • Welcome to the search engine 2.0 http://wolframalpha.com
    This is more advanced search engine. Google “search” will only give you an answer if it already exists on a web page somewhere that is send you URL to. Wolfram is a more advanced next generation search engine. It calculates information for you. It is what is called a computational search engine.
    What wolfram does is present data in a way the Google or the Microsoft product cant. One blogger descries it as a cross between a search engine and a calculator.
    What is does for searches is to process and calculate information not repeat it.
    It gives you factual answers it computes.
    Try something simple like type in your birth date September 10 1969 i.e.: and see how it presents the information. Type the same into Google and see the difference.
    It offers exact data not links to a page that contains data.
    Very cool
    * http://www.wolframalpha.com/
    * http://wolfram.com/

  • Same thing they did with other Desktop productivity suites – not much.

  • If the question is
    Can M$oft develop a Search Engine I will ever use?
    The answer is NO!
    They are a malicious predatory corporation. I would not trust them with my search data. Nor trust their results.
    I can just imagine the results of a
    “Vista problems”

  • Ali,
    Here are some unorganized comments. I tried Ask maybe 3 times and the same for Cuil then never went back. The only reason I even tried them was because Google didn’t provide the results I needed at the time–of course, neither did Ask or Cuil. As a consumer, a new search engine is only going to get one or two chances from me. Also, I never use search engines with too many ads. Google’s biggest asset in my opinion is the vast amount of data they’ve accumulated.
    That said, I think we will see a crop of more sophisticated search engine companies that provide richer search; for instance, semantics-based results. However, I don’t see any of these becoming the go-to search engine of the masses because: 1) people rarely need semantic search (keyword search often is good enough), 2) the UI challenges for inputting semantic search criteria are non-trivial for the average computer user, and 3) Google will not be sitting still (although I’m wondering why they haven’t at least improved their search results presentation UI). I see these more capable search engines forming a services-like layer that other portals and search engines access to provide enriched search offerings although figuring out their biz model may be a bigger challenge than their base technology.

  • What will the world do? It will specialize. Distinct search engines will emerge that meet the needs of specific audiences. Think of it as the difference between looking for medical answers in an encyclopedia and looking for medical answers in a medical research library.
    Don’t look for another monolith to take over from the monolith. Look for small specialists to peck away at share by focusing on providing specific niche content.
    Moore’s Law and Metcalf’s Law are certainly at play but so are traditional market forces, creative destructionism and many other factors.
    For decades – what was good for GM was good for the country. How is that holding up?
    Google, as an entity, is smart. They embrace failure. The create new services and then discard them – take video-based PPC as an example.
    They won’t go away fast but the path of progress is littered with the carcasses of those once considered to be irreplaceable.

  • It’s hard to think that you can break the grasp Google has on our collective searching . . . Google is a very unique and powerful brand. The company name has become a new verb THAT MEANS to search in a comprehensive, all-content-inclusive manner unique to Google.
    In contrast to past leaders like MSN (I never knew anybody that used MSN but apparently they have some good market share), yahoo, and altavista, you never heard anybody say “let me altavista that real quick . . .”
    With that said, do we need ANOTHER freakin search engine? What is really going to make it better for the end user (forget corporate ad sales)? Why don’t some of you silicon valley startup types work on something new, novel, a new solution to an unsolved problem, not a mediocre competitor in an already saturated market.

  • Many companies like Microsoft fail to capture the essence of Software Development as an “art form”. Google started its search engine as a college project for a PHD dissertatioin it was built from the ground up, “that’s what they do best” because they went to the core of the problem and put their hearts at work. Microsoft just wants revenue, you can see that in their many products by having thousands of bugs even on release date. I would never release an OS with 60,000 known errors just to capture sales, it’s against CIS principles. Google is by far the best search engine because it tackles the main purpose which benefits its users the most, which is just doing a great search in the smallest amount of time. The other great many products developed by Google (like Gmail, G Earth.etc) follow the same philosophy; target the needs of your audience! How hard is that to understand?
    This should be your motto “Develop applications with your audience needs first, don’t worry about the sales, if the app is good the sales will certainly follow”
    It’s easier to market a nice useful product than to defend one with many defects.
    BTW: I don’t work for Google nor I’m related to them in any form. Andres

  • I do think that new search engines could change people’s habits and drive users away from Google. Sure, given Google’s market share it would not be easy and it would take time, but I think it is definitely possible as long as it happens at the right time and it is done properly.
    Not like, for example, Cuil or the recently launched Wolfram Alpha have done.
    The first one was announced as a Google killer, and then failed miserably at launch. I was shocked to see what sort of results it would return me (still today, I try them all every now and then out of curiosity) even for stupid queries. People seem to have already forgotten about it, despite it has a very nice – imo – way of presenting the search results to the user.
    Wolfram Alpha has also something unique, in that it returns answers and information on the topic I’ve searched rather than a bunch of links, however relevant they are.
    This is also a cool feature, but they also have failed at start in my opinion, because they should have distanced themselves from what Google instead is.
    As long as new search engine try to introduce themselves as “Google killers” they will fail.
    Successful new search engines will have somehow to forget about Google and try to reinvent search and offer new, better ways of organizing the information, simply because it won’t be easy for anyone to do better what Google does.
    I am curious to see what Twitter will be in a couple of years.
    They’ve made a number of mistakes lately, and sometimes I even doubt they will still exist in a couple of years.
    But at the same time they’ve shown the web world the first true example of realtime search, which is something new even for Google.
    Their real time search is still poor, more of a proof of concept than anything else, but it is there and it is something that will be interesting to look at, in the mix of all the clones etc such as Oneriot and others.
    The fact is: years ago, being the best meant to have the biggest index.
    Then you had to deliver the most relevant results, who cares how many billions of pages you’ve indexed.
    Now, it is realtime search.
    Only a search engine which manages to deliver something useful, new, better without trying to be yet another clone of Google or whatever, will have a chance to change our habits for good.

  • More search engines can become cumbersome but the advantage is information collaboration can be utilized from multiple sources instead of just one. How often has “one of anything” been productive? Multiple tools gets the job done.

  • Hardly anyone here didn’t mention the G word.
    The problem with “one and only” is that it actually can control and restrict access to information. It can collect information on you. Having it in one hands with no alternatives will lead to “think G” and if that G would like not to show you something – you’ll never find it.
    From the business point – MS’s search may give it back something useful anyway. Maybe not directly and not immediately in cash. But eventually it’ll take its share.
    Huge engines are also huge target for spam links and how much they try, they may still have tons of boilerplate sites indexed (it’s fun to see google indexing sites showing google search results 😉 ) so a new engine may be actually more usable for some time and provide more relevant results.

  • I think there will be bits of mediabuzz about new “Googlekillers” but they will fade into the background as they turn out to be just another search engine.
    Specialty search engines are used for specialized things. Otherwise, the biggest general engine has pretty much got it sewn up.
    Erica Friedman
    Yurikon LLC
    Intelligent Business Promotion

  • The outfit with the most market share can be:
    * The place that is first to do a good job, like Google for search engines.
    * Places that both do a better job than current market share leaders, and are able to effectively market themselves against the competition.
    * Places that have captive audiences of new users, like school children on systems that were supplied to the schools at cut rate prices.
    * Place that are able to do a good job cheating, like Microsoft getting computer hardware places to pre-load Windows, as opposed to supporting alternative OSs … there is an opportunity there for Microsoft to have future versions of Windows Internet Explorer biased towards Microsoft’s Search Engine. They’ve tried it before, may again.

  • remove
    google-analyticals.com from /etc/hosts file

  • Wait, you mean there’s another search engine besides WebCrawler? Anyone remember AltaVista?
    There have been search engines at the top which have found their way to the bottom. It’s the way of the world. Just because you’re on top does not mean you will stay there.
    MS has always had the ability to build things into their operating system to leverage their overwhelming market share advantage. If they make a search engine and make it the default search box on IE, they’ll steal market share from Google without many people even knowing they’ve done it.

  • What Will the World Do with More Search Engines?
    Control, manipulate, and censor more information.

  • As more search engines debut, the web crowd will constantly experiment and benchmark it against what is known. The initial reaction is that of excitement and euphoria where the new engine becomes a bubble and then shrinks back with only a few loyal users (the real ones who have their needs addressed by this new search engine).
    Two specific observations off late in search space seem to be around computational search and real time search space. We have seen Wolfram and Google make their moves or at least make their intentions felt in this space.
    In the end, world will continue to try, some will lap it up (for specific purposes), some will go away back to their original choices, but will the google bubble always remain this big ? At the moment, yes…

  • It is pretty interesting to see how everybody tells about branding and that ‘nobody can compete with Google’ etc. Please can you remember for how long do we use search engines? 10 years? 15 years? It is nothing if compare to other IT industries like computer or chip manufactures. Can you remember the giant DEC? Or, can you remember the IBM share in the personal computers market as of 20 years ago? One example is much closer to our time: can you remember giants like Altavista, Excite, Lycos vs Google now? So everything is evolving, and very fast. Maybe we will see other leaders in 5-6 years of web search. From the pure business prospective, I am sure Microsoft knows what to do. For instance, if MS can take 10% of Google’s searches, it is equal to nearly 10% of Google’s revenue = about $2 bln, so it covers 100M expenses good enough.

  • Think of search engines as strip malls. Do we really need one on every corner? Most of them sit vacant or have just a few businesses in them. The only reason I can think they build so many is for a tax write off.
    Another search engine is just as useless. My default search engine is Google. I frequently find irrelevant results. I click on what I think is a page that will have the content I need, then it turns out to be another search engine or an electronic mall. It would be nice to have an option to eliminate such results.
    Advertisers that use pay per click are going to use the engine that produces the most leads. New engines are going to have fewer users, hence lower revenue and the advertisers will not get the return they are looking for. This will make it more difficult for a new engine to succeed.

  • Hopefully one day something better than Google will come along, I don’t understand why some people think that Google is this great company.. they are an advertising driven company, they just disguise it by using understated designs on their sites (actually they don’t really have designs at all) so people think its this benevolent organization when they are no different than Microsoft or any other large corporation.
    Its just competition and hopefully it will yield something better because Google could stand to improve its search results in a lot of areas.

  • All
    Seems to me from most of the post that the attitude is:
    “This wheel is OK why do we need to do anything else” or
    “This Model T Ford Wow! Why make another car”
    The software industry needs to constantly improve and innovate. There is never a silver bullet in I.T. Google is great at particular types of searches. WolframAlpha is new http://www.wolframalpha.com/ it works differently than google, rather than providing links to pages that may answer your search query, it actually tries to answer the question. In about 10 years time quantum computing will start to become more prevalent and throws a load of new challenges and a new way of thinking for us all.

  • I believe there would always be newer and better search engines coming up in the market for the users. Any new search engine which comes up does not necessarily means that it is a better search engine but it would surely ensure that the existing popular search engines would always be under the competitive pressure to perform better and keep upgrading itself. Finally, even search engines would follow the theory of Darwinism i.e. ” Survival of the Fittest”.

  • Cicero Rautenbach

    I can appreciate the need for more specialized search engines rather than more general search engines. An example of such a search engine will be a Medical SE, Federal Government SE, Higher Ed SE etc..

  • The world of search engines is different than other areas of software, in that there is practically no initial investment by the user when using the search engine. You don’t have to buy anything. Yes, there is a certain level of inertia to overcome in the users habits, but if (and I should emphasis, IF) a new search engine CONSISTANTLY brings back better results, then people will eventually migrate to it.
    Of course, there is also curb-appeal, too. When I go to Google, I see a nice, clean, no-nonsense page where I can ask it to do just what I want. Others (like Yahoo, Excite, et.al.) are so packed with garbage that I don’t want to bother with them.
    But aside from that, I am becoming increasingly disappointed with Googles result rankings. It used to be that when I searched for something on Google, the most relevant pages came up first. Now, I need to scan down several pages of results to find what I want. I am ready for a change.
    So IF Microsoft can return better results, and IF they can keep it up, and IF Google doesn’t learn their lesson, then yes, I believe that users will make the switch. But that is a lot of IF’s.

  • The world doesn’t more — or possibly any — “search” engines.
    The world needs FIND engines. Think about the distinction. When someone can figure that equation out, things will change. Whether it is better will be obvious to the user and unlike most “products” there is absolutely no cost to try a new search/find page except a few seconds of time.
    There is very little differentiation in the “results” of the major search engines these days, and moreover, some of the main purposes of the search engines originally — to find general information on a topic, person, company, product, etc — has been somewhat dis-intermediated/disrupted by the advent of things like Wikipedia, which has gone from “unreliable bunch of bunk” to well-managed and mostly legit information resource. (Just ask the people at Brittanica, who recently realized they were in the buggy-whip business circa 1910).
    Google has for now won an awareness/real estate war. They have the most code and they have the highest awareness, as well as what seems to be a clever and well-managed infrastructure (thousands of shipping containers turned into datacenters, among other things).
    The brand is incidental and probably much weaker than many people believe.
    As most monopolies (and I mean this in the broadest, not legal sense) it will eventually be challenged by a nimble upstart that will deliver something better that people will simply…want.
    Look at the auto business. GM’s competition has not meaningfully been Ford or Chrysler for a long time — their collective competition has been foreign offerings that either actually offer more for less or have managed to portray themselves that way.
    The “threat” to Google is unlikely to be MSFT or YHOO. It is likely to be three other kids, in another dorm, who come up with a gizmo, gadget or piece of math that does something more useful. That group might well then be bought up by a MSFT or YHOO or other household name, but the innovations are unlikely to come from within those firms or they would have already.
    Google’s biggest threat is really itself. It probably could do something more interesting with its core product but it is focused on making money, which is obviously the core business objective for anyone (unless you are Twitter), but Google’s “innovations” in search have to do with managing its own revenue streams more than managing its own popularity.
    Someone like AMZN probably has the potential to come out of nowhere with a “find” engine also, if it wanted to.
    I know hundreds of people who use Google, as does everyone. But I know nobody who is “loyal” to Google in the sense that switching is a click away and they would, if there were a reason.
    Hope this adds something not totally redundant to the discussion…

  • The old saying about building a better mousetrap still applies. I remember when AltaVista was tha greatest search engine ever. Then Google came along and ate their lunch. If Kumo (or Bing) does a beter job than Google, they’ll start to eat into Google’s dominance. The trick will be to stay ahead of Google. I predict that won’t be easy.

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