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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Is the future a Swarm of Vertical Searchs or Google Singularity?

Via John Battelle I saw a Searchenginelowdown post highlight research that shows higher user satisfaction with Become.com vs. Google for shopping tasks. As you know, I think there are specialized search opportunities that can help people get the information they are looking for much more easily. The challenge for Become.com is discoverability and people's desire to do better than what they are currently using--something like a 80% satisfaction rate for Google (and a 68% for Yahoo!...sorry I need to look for the source.)

Here's an excerpt using the broadcast TV vs. cable TV analogy:

"when we talk about Google killers I don't think we're talking about a single source - we're talking about an aggregate of sites that do specific tabs of Google better....This will not be an overnight thing, but rather a year-by-year thing in which we will watch Google's search share erode to more targeted specialty engines....Cable didn't kill broadcast, but it certainly hit it hard, so perhaps "killer" isn't really a precise term."

There are 2 problems. First, is consumers may already be satisfied with Google, or to be more precise, the halo effect from success with general searches overcomes the specific failings of Google in a specialized area. Second, specialized search engines still face the issue of getting advertisers, and ultimately they are dependent on Adsense or Yahoo! publisher network.

I still think that Become.com and other specialized search plays have a chance. I don't think the answer is predestined either -- if numerous specialized search engines do a great job in their vertical, then people will be trained to look for better search tools, and everyone (in specialized search will win). So lets see if Become.com, Kayak, etc. can prevent us from falling into the Google singularity...

1 comment:

Garrett said...

Hello, this is search engine lowdown :)

I think though that the lustre/halo will come off of Google... it could take 20+ years as it did for MSN in order for people to get frustrated and start looking for alternatives.

However I think search will increasingly come to be wrapped into tasks, and "searching" as a practice will become less prevalent. This is pure speculation of course ;)

Even if Google's search share declines their ad distribution network, through content sites and partner search engines, is STRONG. Especially now with YouTube and the media groundwork that lays for them.

I've been calling them an ad distribution company rather than, as they call themselves, a technology company.

Thanks again for your thoughts, and I agree that there's a strong chance for engines to take search share. When it comes to ad distribution though it might be that Google stays the strongest...

Garrett