The Guardian writes about where Google might be headed once it does its IPO:
Google’s search is stuck: its database is not getting bigger, and its search results are not getting better, they are getting worse. Things that were simple when Google had just a few geek users are now hard because it is under continuous attack from thousands of people who track its every move and will resort to any trick they can find to get their sites ranked higher. The technology that won the last search engine wars won’t be enough to win the next one, as Google surely knows.
According to Moreover’s Pitkow, the one most likely to win in the long run is the one that can increase its “switching costs” by adding personalisation. At the moment, anyone can search at Google or Teoma or any other search engine, and there is no penalty to switching. That’s different from, say, Amazon, where things like one-click ordering, intelligent book recommendations, wish lists and other personalisation features discourage users from defecting to rival sites, even if they are cheaper.
It’s hard to switch from Yahoo if you use its personalised My Yahoo service, email, instant messaging, chat and shopping facilities. It’s hard to avoid Microsoft if you use its operating system, browser and Hotmail email service. It’s easy to switch from Google. Whether they know it or not, the people who plan to buy Google shares could be taking a gamble on it solving that problem, and soon.