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Microsoft Burns Book Search – Lacks “High Commercial Intent”
Wow. Earlier this month, I
Live Search Books as a key advance they were doing in search. Today,
news that the site along with
Academic are being closed next week, since they lack the “high consumer
intent” that Microsoft is now focusing on. So much for trying to seem like the
much-needed “good” alternative to Google. From Microsoft’s blog post:
Today we informed our partners that we are ending the Live Search Books and
Live Search Academic projects and that both sites will be taken down next
week. Books and scholarly publications will continue to be integrated into our
Search results, but not through separate indexes.
This also means that we are winding down our digitization initiatives,
including our library scanning and our in-copyright book programs. We
recognize that this decision comes as disappointing news to our partners, the
publishing and academic communities, and Live Search users.
Amazing. And disappointing. Microsoft got mileage out of the idea it was
working with the Open Content
Alliance as the “good” book search partner not encumbered by controversy
that the Google Book Search service has
encountered. For background on that, see:
- Battle For Books:
Evil Google Versus The Altruistic Open Content Alliance, Dec. 2006
Microsoft Slams At Google As Copyright Infringer, March 2007
- Google: As Open As
It Wants To Be (i.e., When It’s Convenient), Nov. 2007
While I had wanted to see the two rival book scanning projects cooperate more
with each other, it was still nice to have both major companies involved. But
apparently Microsoft figures going after the consumer searchers (as with the
Live Search Cashback
program) means there’s no time for important but less-revenue generating
projects like these. Writes Microsoft:
Given the evolution of the Web and our strategy, we believe the next
generation of search is about the development of an underlying, sustainable
business model for the search engine, consumer, and content partner. For
example, this past Wednesday we announced our strategy to focus on verticals
with high commercial intent, such as travel, and offer users cash back on
their purchases from our advertisers.
Gosh, Google somehow seems to be able to run a sustainable business model and
devote some energy and resources into indexing books and scholarly information,
even if those generate little to no revenue. They do it in part because they
think it’s good business to provide all types of searches, not just those that
will earn them money.
In the middle of a search war, I can understand that a “distraction” like
book and academic search might seem like something to Microsoft that has to go.
However, Microsoft’s not hurting for cash to keep it up, if it wanted. Dropping
it makes Google seem less like the evil giant working for its own benefit that
Microsoft would hope people view it as.
Oh well. For the record,
Live Search Books
launched in December 2006 (versus Google Book
Search, launched in December 2003).
Academic launched in April 2006 (versus
Google Scholar, launched back in November 2004). Both Google programs