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Thursday, October 06, 2005

There's an interesting discussion going on between Dave Winer, and Philipp Lenssen regarding what Google is or is not doing, with regards search. Dave's viewpoint is 'Google is repeating Alta Vista's mistake that allowed Google to become number one in search, they're diversifying into everything, and neglecting search. Philipp's viewpoint is rather different, characterised with the quote 'So is Google losing focus on search? No, clearly not.'

I think as with most things, the truth is somewhere in between. Google is doing a lot with search - personalization, suggest, blog search, Google local, Google maps and so on. Clearly they still have an interest in search, and they have introduced a lot of interesting syntax that can be used (such as synonym search, define and so on) that their competition doesn't have. However, if you look at their competition, such as Exalead who have introduced things such as phonetic search, Google isn't doing as much as it could. Search functionality is still very limited, and there are a lot of things that I'd like to see *all* search engines (not just Google) doing that they're currently not. Given their resources it wouldn't be hard for Google to continue to improve search, and to improve it much more quickly than they're doing at the moment. However they can't do that because they're concentrating on a whole bunch of other things instead. I think Google is now in a position where they feel they can juggle things around, and sometimes search gets put on the back burner for a while. We always need to remember that Google is NOT about search, Google is about making money for their shareholders, and if you view it in that light what they're doing makes perfect sense.

So, is Google doing enough with search? Clearly not - they could do more than they are doing right now. Is Google ignoring search? Clearly not, given the innovations they bring in. In my opinion, Google is doing what they think they need to, and when they've done that, they look at other stuff. I'd like Google to concentrate even more on search, but then I'm not a shareholder looking to get a return on my money. I think they'll do what they need to when they need to, and this is, I think the important point. Google is becoming reactive rather than proactive, and doing things when they need to in order to consolidate their position. And search is just one of those things.

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