Why Google Social Search Is Good and Bad for the Market

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-10-22 Print this article Print

Hope you've had time to get over the reflexive, knee-jerk news that Google would, like Microsoft Bing, start indexing Twitter tweets on its search results page.

More interesting to me in the near term -- probably because it's closer to launching -- is the news of Google Social Search, the search engine's play to integrate its users accounts, contacts and profile information,

I already noted that the move puts the biggest dog in the social search engine race. Now we have to wonder what this means for the smaller dogs, some of whom have been running with this idea for several years (hello, Eurekster).

So, two schools of thought here.

First, and what I hope happens, is that Google's entrance buoys the crowded market, lifting up the long tail of dozens of social search engines, from the fresh Aardvark to more established players Mahalo, ChaCha, Scour, Wink, etc.

Alternatively, Google's entrance in social search could banish these startups to the hinterlands of obsolescence. By virtue of its large user base, Google could easily become the Facebook of social search, with millions of people opting in to use the service.

Millions of Google users already have a Google Account, Google Profile with contacts through Gmail. Many of these people have accounts on Twitter, FriendFeed, etc. Google made the entry barrier so low -- just click to opt in -- that it's not hard to imagine the service taking off.

I would not go so far as to say millions of people would leave Mahalo or their other social search networks for Google (though I wouldn't be surprised), but I would say this could preempt users from joining those other services.

That would incinerate the long tail. Just spitballing here. What do you think?

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