Apr 13, 2007

The search war is over, Google has won, and I couldn't be happier

It's being widely reported that Google's share of the U.S. search market has climbed yet again.

This data is consistent with two points I've recently found. On the quantitative side, 6 weeks into the initial launch of Carmun, we' see that about 60% of the initial traffic has come from search engines, and of that search traffic close to 95% was delivered from Google search. On the qualitative side, prior to March we conducted numerous formal and informal focus groups at NYU, Tufts and Columbia. Overwhelmingly the students told us that Google was their starting point for Internet discovery. And by overwhelmingly I mean over 95% of these kids used Google exclusively for discovery.

I therefore declare the U.S. search war to be over. Google has won and it is becoming the sole starting point for the delivery of web content and services. It won because it works really well for users and and incremental advances will not matter to users -- those doing to searching.

I'm totally thrilled with this development. This makes it that much easier to develop and deliver interesting web services. Google does an amazing job of searching through the raw data that is the web (the web as the database). However it is they do it, they are the best ever at providing relevance to search.

But Google does not provide context to search. And that is a vast, huge opportunity, because I believe the next stage of search innovation is about providing context on top of and utilizing Google's dominance relevance. Kind of like adding an application layer called Context on top of Google.

For example, in searching for a hotel in Puerto Rico, one of the top results is from tripadvisor, which delivers ratings, reviews, deals and related information to that search. In other words, it provides a layer of context on top of the original Google search.

Similarly, searching for Mud Coffee in New York (the best coffee there is), brings me results from yelp, 23 reviews, maps and a community. Again, context.

Finally, someone interested in Arthurian legends who searches for a summary of Lancelot and Guinevere might find their way to this project list on Carmun, where a user has put together their own compendium of 38 works related to this subject, with ratings, reviews, groups and a way to locate a work at a university library.

These three examples of context on top of Google results are powerful because they demonstrate the richness and variety that web applications can add to raw indexed data. Having one provider who excels at indexing that data and making it searchable, and having that provider deliver the vast majority of searches, actually makes it easier and more efficient for us service providers to add innovation -- context -- on top of the search.

For that reason I am thrilled that Google has won the search war.


Anonymous said...

Yep, everything that is going to be invented has been invented, theres nothing left to do. we can all just turn off our computers and go back to the real world now.