Ramesh Jain writes:

Current search engines were designed based on two very important assumptions:

1. Most information on the Web is in text form.
2. Most people will access Internet on telephone modems.

These two assumptions have been very important in design of most current search engines. But these assumptions are now being challenged.

Most information was in the text form about 10 years ago, even 5 years ago. Now a good percentage guess is anywhere between 15-20% content is non-textual. And due to the explosion in digital cameras, videos, digital music, and sensor nets I would not be surprised if in the next 5-10 years only 20% of the content will be text. This brings an important question: Can search engines that were designed on the assumption of textual content deal with non-textual content? Or more importantly, can the companies that capitalized on text-based environment transform themselves in time to deal with the changing nature of content?

The second assumption is equally important. When you have access using low bandwidth line, the presentation techniques and interaction environment have to be designed to satisfy human needs for information. On the other hand, with better resources people want to get information but they want it more in experiential form. A good example of this is that with TV, the news on TV became more influential than Newspapers. So with high bandwidth connectivity, people are expecting very different interaction environments than the tradition key word boxes and list of links to sources. Once again, can traditional search companies transform themselves to this new environment.

I think the leader in the search space will be the one who builds new technology and new business that are based on the transformed world of high bandwidth connectivity and multimedia. It will be interesting to see whether that will be Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, or the NextSearch.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.