Google, Microsoft See Eye to Eye on Search

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-09-23 Print this article Print

It's clear Mayer and Pedersen think similarly about search.

Pedersen notes that, at present, when you ask a search engine for "recent, positive reviews of the Amazon Kindle," it will ignore the nuances of the request because it understands relatively little of what we say. He adds:

"Increasingly, however, search engines will begin to understand more of the intention behind a user's query through the application of better Web crawling and mining and natural-language-understanding algorithms. For example, search engines have historically successfully applied complex statistical analyses to the web in several languages to produce translators that handily beat traditional rule-based approaches. We can expect these efforts to increase in sophistication, ultimately leading to engines that understand both the world and the structure of our language."

That's a nice shout-out for the semantic Web, something that Google has been playing around with under the covers. I expect Bing is also testing semantic search.

In another statement that recalls Google's oft-relayed outlook on search, Pedersen notes:

"In many ways, search technology is still in its infancy but much like a child, its potential is limitless. We see Bing as the first step in this long process of transforming search from something which often points you somewhere else to try and find your answer. We see search as something that both understands you and the world in which it exists to provide you with insight and knowledge-rather than more questions."

Mayer, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin make the point about search being in its infancy often. Mayer noted in her post:

"Search is a science that will develop and advance over hundreds of years. Think of it like biology and physics in the 1500s or 1600s: It's a new science where we make big and exciting breakthroughs all the time. However, it could be a hundred years or more before we have microscopes and an understanding of the proverbial molecules and atoms of search. Just like biology and physics several hundred years ago, the biggest advances are yet to come."

The similarities between the way Google and Microsoft view search hold together to the end. Well, almost. There is one area where Microsoft's and Google's views on search seem to diverge: scale.

Pedersen argues that search will transform because it benefits from scale, that is, it becomes better and more useful as the amount of data increases. That echoes what Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in selling the Microsoft-Yahoo search deal. Google Chief Economist Hal Varian disputed this notion.

I put that debate to you, readers: Does scale matter?

And if you don't care about that topic, how about this: Will Microsoft be able to achieve staying power by following its current course of action, powering Yahoo and innovating with real-time search, shared search and visual search?



Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel