Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Needles V/s The HayStack
( Evolution and future of Web Search )
Sep 5, '12
My preposterous alter-ego and my abrupt journey through the world of academia kept me from being a member of the herd. Without being shackled by the grids that contain our vision, traps, I have always scoffed at the inertia of businesses to adapt to the evolving ethos they subsist within. Innovation has traditionally been the responsibility of the new entrants in the space or the inertia is shaken off only when competition threatens to take a slice of their pie.
In the case of online search, there is absence of serious competition yet.
The growth of the web is driven by ‘search’
Many realize the irony of how the prolific growth of Google continues to be the anchor dragging for the growth of ‘online search’ per se. An 80/20 slice of non-email net-usage purposes, the world wide web still reflects a majority of the net-users are still in the ‘discovery’ mode. This factoid predicts that search products would have been mainstream in this nascent stage of the internet. However, search products outside Google have not been able to make their mark. In effect, search per se has not evolved as dynamically as it needed to have. From a sector-perspective, the growth of the internet is directly dependent on the net’s ability to deliver more ergonomic and pointed search solutions.
Since, Google.com, the virtual monopoly of search has dictated the evolution of search globally, and as the thumb rule of growth goes, Google has done well for itself, but the growth and evolution of online ‘Online Search’ as a segment has suffered due to the lack of competition. This piece is NOT about how Google stifles every other search provider that has endeavoured into oblivion. Instead it is about reiterating that Online Search is the core sector of the gargantuan eco-space on the world wide web. Search is the lowest-common-denominator for the netspace.
Many have not recognized that the main unstated USP of Facebook was to be a smart and convenient platform to search for your all friends, colleagues and family that the modern-day life had estranged from users.
Factors affecting Online Search
Focus on Generic Search Products
Following Google’s lead all other search players have also tried to blindly straddle the entire spectrum of search instead of formulating products based on the ethos of the markets. The world we live in today is about borders, boundaries, classifications, categories, sections, factions…. I can go on and on. In a world where we grow up belonging to all of the above, if new Online Search businesses had tried to launch search platforms for niche or specific arena instead of being generic, they would have tasted success. Evincing you of this theory are the successes of Flickr.com (Image Search), Youtube.com (Video Search), LimeWire (For Music), Amazon (for Books) or even Facebook (for friends). Despite their success, the silicon valleys across the world are still to wake up about to the phenomenal potential for launching category-specific search platforms.
If this is not enough motivation, let us discuss some of the de-merits of generic online search which are now experience commonplace by veteran users of Google for online search….
Adulteration of authentic search due to the abuse of SEO by commercial enterprises.
Abuse by myopic SEO providers has cost Google, the very efficiency of online search sliding the delight value proposition that it earlier soared upon to dominate the online world.
First pages commercial influx
The first page premium is lost due to SEO abuse and that has taken away the ‘instant’ and ‘accurate’ gratifications from the users’ end-benefits. If Google had not kept competition from growing to their size, these factors would have had a visible impact on numbers.
Abuse of Key-words by SEO outfits for even unrelated sites
The cracks at the bottom of the Google ship that need to be plugged are the unscrupulous use of unrelated keywords by SEO providers, which ‘con’ searchers to unrelated sites adding to the fury of the searchers, costing Google the credibility that once the world swore by.
Days of Macro, all-pervasive online search only for the uninitiated
Generic search platforms like Google are increasingly reducing to becoming the kindergarten for newbies (read first-generation net users) logging on to the internet from the slower third world economies. Google is now a set of training wheels on the net bicycle the new net users want to learn riding the net on.
Contemporary Search initiatives
The people-driven eco-space does not take long to find solutions, contemporary web products are already revolutionizing online search, Wikipedia is another new-age avatar of online search, filling the growing void of ‘authentic’ search result and that being its core value proposition and thus straddling the first and second-generation users.
Even if Google is actually stifling competition, mountains like Google are not conquered in a day. The birth of new-age, ergonomic search platforms for specific categories will slowly chip away the solid rock to tunnel through the mountain of monopoly called Google.
Continue to watch this space for how the days of the hay-stacks are replaced by needle-scouting sensors.