• http://www.bing.com stefanw

    I love it when great minds come together. And then I’m there to bring it all down. But seriously I completely agree with John. The ability for an engine to do more than return a bunch of links that put the burden of exploration on the human is a model that needs a refresh. Determining intent of the query – thru explicit or implicit means – and trying to build an experience (whether its thru brokered apps or preprocessed info) that helps people navigate the new online lanscape – that is where we need to be headed.
    Stefan Weitz
    Director, Bing

  • http://twitter.com/MichelleObama7 Clifford Bryan

    Interesting concept but I don’t see Google being as worried as the article implies. Google has thrown billions into its “image” as the best in search. Which backs up the reality. They also can fine tune their algorithm pretty much at will if they see fit. The new caffeine engine is an example. They have “stressed its flexibility”. That’s code word for, “we have our eyes on the competition”. Any new “uber search” that comes out will have to gamble that Google caffeine does not have the same capability “under the hood”.

    It would be dangerous for a company to invest in a search engine based on what you see Google search doing on the “exterior”. Other then the small chance that the intricacies of caffeines “flexibility” leaks out, this sounds like a gamble.

  • http://searchengineland.com Gord Hotchkiss


    I think you missed the point. This is not talking about a new search engine. This is talking about a distinct shift in how we search, moving Google and it’s algorithm to a role of supplying search functionality rather than owning the real estate on which the results are shown. It’s that paradigm on which Google’s current revenue model currently sits, and that’s what John is saying is in jeopardy.

  • http://www.xyggy.com dbv

    There is no doubt that the tens of thousands of Apps on smart devices (and eventually) on all devices will benefit from embedded search ie. Apps that use a search engine at the back without the user knowing about it. You can see why Google would be worried about this and it begins to explain the iPhone vs Android wars that have started. But, search engine science is still at its infancy.

    Amit Singhal, Google Research Fellow said recently (http://googlepolicyeurope.blogspot.com/2010/02/this-stuff-is-tough.html), “Ultimately, search is nowhere near a solved problem. Although I’ve been at this for almost two decades now, I’d still guess that search isn’t quite out of its infancy yet. The science is probably just about at the point where we’re crawling. Soon we’ll walk. I hope that in my lifetime, I’ll see search enter its adolescence.”

    Entering a text query (eg. “sub-zero refrigerators”) and getting back pages that contain some combination of those keywords is no longer enough (or relevant). Whether used directly or indirectly (in Apps), search engines of the future will have to transform to mimic what we as humans do in our everyday lives. We search for and find “things” constantly and do it remarkably well. Information retrieval has to move towards a model based on human learning and generalization. When we do, John’s query for “sub-zero refrigerators” will return relevant “things” whether the things are web pages, documents, images, videos, sounds and so on to satisfy his information need.

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com George Michie

    Gord, this is a great interview.

    I do wonder though if we aren’t talking about semantics here. Ostensibly, when one searches for “photography gear” and ends up on Adorama’s site or B & H Photography’s site, haven’t they in fact found a killer app for finding photography gear, reviews and info? Seems like the apps already exist in the form of websites.

    One could argue that those apps (websites) have a limited range of offerings when compared to “everything”, but…

  • http://www.tradedoubler.com natewood

    Facinating. To me this all points at the fragmentation and verticalisation of search. The penetration of the digital generation and growing sophistication of searchers means that one search engine won’t always be the best tool to use. There is huge scope for verticalised search, if done well, and if done in time to actually gain traction before the Big 3 get their momentum going. A great example is the recruitment and jobs arena, where there are some great aggregators and search services there already, although they don’t have the brand traction and recall and still rely on search engines to send intial traffic.

    I think we’ll see the Big 3 engines pushing the case for structured data so that they can develop more vertical offerings themselves. Unfortunately for app producers, many of these pull data from the Big 3, and simply cross reference it and compare. There’s a real need here to gather and manipulate data in creative ways outside of the search engines if there’s to be any competition.

  • http://www.kameir.com kameir

    Google claims that its mission is to organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful. At first look this seems to be a valuable goal. However, it is important to keep in mind that this mission is subordinant to the primary goal of any company which is to increase the wealth of its owners (shareholders) by paying dividends and/or causing the stock price to increase. Plagued by this paradigm Google adapted a business model (AdWords; AdSense) that in its consequence led to the development of an entirely new industry: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which in its various forms – such as content farms – has caused an explosion of digital content that is essentially marketing copy disguised as information. In short: Google consequently organizes mostly the world’s ad copy rather than the world’s information. It is hence an utterly failed attempt to effectively organize information. Unless the “search giant’ is willing to radically change its business model there seems no way out of the corner the company painted itself into.
    I am working on an concept that addresses the inherent conflict while attempting to put the challenge of information organization into a wider scope than simply ‘search’ and hope to push out a minimum viable product out this year.