News Analysis: Many of us know what Google thinks of search. In addition to the regular search innovations the company throws against the wall-see last week's launch of Google Fast Flip and today's Sidewiki, the company's leaders blast out state of the union addresses on the topic.
"The Future of Search" published by Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience at Google, in September 2008, is fitting for a company that leads the free world in search engine market share.
What you haven't seen are such state of search posts from Google's rivals Yahoo and Microsoft. Until now. Jan Pedersen, chief scientist for core search at Microsoft, shared his thoughts on the current search market and its future direction in this post on the Huffington Post Sept. 22.
When we read it, we quickly realize that Google is no longer the smartest kid in the class. Sure, Google may have the most search marbles, but Pedersen's piece echoes a lot of what Mayer wrote in her post from September 2008. What this means is Microsoft gets search, something that we couldn't say with a straight face before Bing launched in June. Still, at 9 percent, Bing has a long way to go to catch Google's 65 percent search market share.
In his post, Pedersen argued that search is limited because it understands little of what we say and for that reason it isn't as good at helping users collect, organize and act on information. Eventually, search will be the easiest way to answer a question or to complete a task. Mayer, meanwhile, noted: "There are lots of ways that search will need to evolve in order to easily meet user needs."
Pedersen said search will be buoyed by the growth of the Internet, with devices, users, services and information growing along with computing power and "algorithmic ingenuity." We also have the glut of user-generated content and social outlets such as Wikipedia, Twitter, Flickr and Facebook to thank for spurring search development. He pointed to startups offering real-time search services.
But Bing, like Google and Yahoo, uses another form of user-generated data to boost search: the feedback users provide with their searches. Bing uses this data in aggregate to enhance search results. Google search services gauge their users search behavior, too. Pedersen added:
""By mining the vast amounts of behavioral data that accumulate through usage and through explicit and implicit contribution to the Web, search engines will become increasingly adept at anticipating user intentions. Ultimately this will extend to the common actions and services associated with the content someone is looking for. For example, it will be possible in the near future to reserve a table at a restaurant or order a taxi from the 'search results' page for these queries.""
What Pedersen described as user-generated data Mayer called personalization when she wrote in her post:
""Search engines of the future will be better in part because they will understand more about you, the individual user. Of course, you will be in control of your personal information, and whatever personal information the search engine uses will be with your permission and will be transparent to you. But even with the most rudimentary user information, search engines can and will provide drastically better search results.""