TECH TALK: Rethinking Search: What Others Say

Before we go ahead, here are a few quotes from various publications which give an overview of the action in the Search space:

Business Week: Google has decided that its customers should gather information through inputs of text search terms by using more or less the same simple interface to search for news, things to buy, or any other topic. That’s a small but important distinction. Google assumes that customers are smart enough to learn to search with words rather than with the graphical and pull-down menus used by most of its competitorsTaken to its logical extension of providing an interface for every popular service or sector on the Web, Google becomes the omnipresent middleman and a clear and present danger to just about any company that relies on the Internet for commerce. Which, increasingly, is every company in the developed world.

Wall Street Journal: Yahoo wants to combine personalization and customization features to extend the usefulness of searches In the future, Yahoo officials say, searches could become much more personalized. They could be tailored to return results that reflect users’ past Web-surfing behavior, for example, or preferences or interests they list in a profile… Yahoo has long let users customize its site in a number of ways, such as setting up pages to track selections of favorite stocks. A recent page for the Indiana Pacers Web page, for example, highlighted an upcoming game against the Memphis Grizzlies. In addition to the date and time, the page included links for users to add the event to their calendar and to buy tickets. Similar combinations could be blended with conventional search, to help deliver consumers to the pages of advertisers or merchant partners.

Search Engine Watch: Last year at this time there was really no such thing as local search. Fast forward twelve months and local is one of the hottest topics in search Why local? The answer, as one might expect, is revenue-or more precisely, potential revenue. When you add up the number of all the paid search advertisers in the world right now, the total is approximately 380,000. Yet, there is substantial overlap among the advertisers of the different paid search networks. (It’s rare a company that uses Google but not Overture and vice versa.) So, as a rough estimate, the figure is probably closer to 250,000 paid search advertisers on a global basisBy contrast, the U.S. alone has about 10 million small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and there may be as many as 30 million more such businesses in developed countries around the world. In the U.S., most of those SMEs, the bulk of which have fewer than nine employees, conduct the majority of their business within 50 miles of their locations.

WSJ: Google is holding exercises on Amazon’s borders with its Froogle retailing engine. Amazon, too, has made moves beyond its core retailing business: The company increasingly acts as a guide to third-party stores in categories such as sporting goods and toys, and is developing an e-commerce search service. Meanwhile, eBay relies on search to help users find just about anything anyone would like to buy — and its popularity and PayPal payments unit put it in a strong position should it get an expansionist itch. Then there’s InterActiveCorp, which is a top provider of searches for airline tickets, hotel reservations and the like, but may want to establish a stronger position in everyday searchesYahoo, Google, Microsoft, eBay, Amazon, InterActiveCorp: They arrived from different starting points, and have different strengths, but all may be combatants in the new round of search wars.

Jeremy Zawodny: Search often leads to transactions. The search engine companies want a cut of those transactions–just like Amazon or eBay get. Think of them as search services for a minute. Expect to see a lot of work going into vertical search markets: cars, real estate, electronics, hotels, vacation deals, etc. And expect to see the existing big search players aggressively [re]positioning themselves as the place to go to search for products and services, not just information.

Tomorrow: What Others Say (continued)

TECH TALK Rethinking Search+T

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.