Last Sunday, Sept. 7, the blogosphere scoured Google for a post trumpeting the company's 10th birthday. Sadly, we were disappointed, or relieved for those who are Googled out by the Chrome bomb Google dropped on Microsoft.
There was no such post. Methinks Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of search products and user experience, was preparing for TechCrunch50 Sept. 8, where she announced a new Google news archive program and served as a panel judge for some startups.
Now she's back to doing what she loves to do in this Sept. 10 blog post: talking search. I have to write about it, simply because it dovetails with my own coverage from last Friday, where I claimed Google's next battle will be in the mobile sector versus Microsoft, Apple and Yahoo.
Instead of rehashing the past, Mayer discusses what she thinks search will be like in the next 10 years. She broke the future of search down into six characteristics: modes, media, personalization, location, social and language. I'm going to discuss what I think about each one.
By modes, Mayer means that search needs to be more accessible through devices beyond the classic PC or laptop. Mobile modality, including on phones, in cars and, who knows, maybe entertainment systems that double as TVs and computers. We're already seeing this with the uptake of Google Search on the iPhone and other gadgets.
She suggests a wearable device that does searches in the background based on the words it picks up from conversations, and then flashes relevant facts? Interesting. That's futuristic all right. Voice search exists, but it's such a niche area right now. I wonder who, what or when Google will buy in voice search to crack into this green field.
"In the next 10 years, we will see radical advances in modes of search: mobile devices offering us easier search, Internet capabilities deployed in more devices, and different ways of entering and expressing your queries by voice, natural language, picture or song, just to name a few. It's clear that while keyword-based searching is incredibly powerful, it's also incredibly limiting. These new modes will be one of the most sweeping changes in search."
These modes could also be quite lucrative once Google, Yahoo or Microsoft figures out how to sell ads against them.
Next, Mayer cites media, pointing to Google's Universal search as an important first step that included images, videos, news, books and maps/local information in Google's search results. She wonders what the results page would be like if it began to seem more like an answer rather than 10 independent guesses.
She suggests laying out results in columns to use more of the width available on newer, wider screens. I'm not so sure about that, let alone what it would look like. Mayer would do well to provide a visual, but I appreciate the ambitious thinking.
Third on her list is personalization, and it is here where Google must be careful considering the Department of Justice appears to be poised to challenge Google's deal with Yahoo.