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TECH TALK: The Best of 2004: Search Wars

January 12th, 2005 · No Comments

I have picked what I think were the best blog posts and articles of 2004. With each, I have added a small commentary as to why I liked it.

1. Rich Skrenta on Google (April)

This was perhaps the first post that made be think differently of Google. Until then, Google was a great search engine. This essay put Googles platform into a wider context and made it clear that we were seeing was the shift in the computing platform from the desktop to the Internet.
Google is a company that has built a single very large, custom computer. It’s running their own cluster operating system. They make their big computer even bigger and faster each month, while lowering the cost of CPU cycles. It’s looking more like a general purpose platform than a cluster optimized for a single application.

While competitors are targeting the individual applications Google has deployed, Google is building a massive, general purpose computing platform for web-scale programming.

This computer is running the world’s top search engine, a social networking service, a shopping price comparison engine, a new email service, and a local search/yellow pages engine. What will they do next with the world’s biggest computer and most advanced operating system?

2. Charles Ferguson on the coming Google-Microsoft Wars in Technology Review (December)

This article makes clear the enormous stakes in the search battle. The game has shifted over the year search is no longer just a task we perform many times a day, but the functionality of search is becoming embedded into the core activities. As such, search is the next platform.

Until now, competition in the search industry has been limited to the Web and has been conducted algorithm by algorithm, feature by feature, and site by site. This competition has resulted in a Google and Yahoo duopoly. If nothing were to change, the growth of Microsofts search business would only create a broader oligopoly, similar, perhaps, to those in other media markets. But the search industry will soon serve more than just a Web-based consumer market. It will also include an industrial market for enterprise software products and services, a mass market for personal productivity and communications software, and software and services for a sea of new consumer devices. Search tools will comb through not only Microsoft Office and PDF documents, but also e-mail, instant messages, music, and images; with the spread of voice recognition, Internet telephony, and broadband, it will also be possible to index and search telephone conversations, voice mail, and video files. All these new search products and services will have to work with each other and with many other systems. This, in turn, will require standards.

In short, the search industry is ready for an architecture war.

Tomorrow: KISS and Massputers


TECH TALK The Best of 2004+T

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