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I saw a couple of interesting search things this weekend
– whilst reading a blog favourite of mine I saw that Microsoft have started actively started advertising that you can get cash back by using their search engine. This is a pretty aggressive way of gaining market share, not only are they paying people a portion of their money to purchase through their engine (a whiff of desperation perchance?), but they’re then spending even more on acquiring customers through it. Its still early days, but it will be difficult for them to change this inbuilt consumer behavior that Google is the default (Google’s US market share in the US is growing and in western Europe its almost insurmountable, whereas MSN/Longhorn has as yet only launched in France and the UK).
Microsoft also acquired Powerset this week which may be another arrow in the quiver in developing a better search engine. Powerset is focused on developing a more intuitive way of you searching the web, which mirrors natural language. This means you don’t have to search in a search engine friendly manner but as how you would speak to a friend or communicate in that way. I can understand that it’s a great way to query, but as a result of it you have to understand (as they used in their example) that cancer is both a disease and a star sign, and understanding the context is a crucial element. They’re apparently integrating this into the Microsoft search technology by the end of the year, but the real challenge is to get people to use the service rather than how innovative the model is.
You can innovate in search from a querying perspective as above, from an indexing perspective or from a display perspective. With regards to display people are trying to innovate from numerous different ways (and I quite like what Ask is doing with mixing video, commercial and text links in a clean looking display) I’m less enamoured with searchme, it displays the search sites in a page where you can scroll through the pages kind of like Apple’s coverflow for iTunes. It looks very slick and sexy, but it doesn’t display the content as I like to process it; looking at a full webpage doesn’t give me the ability to scan the text and find out if it contains what I’m looking for. however shuffling through pages is easier to use than tabbing through pages, so you can see a lot of pages in a short space of time.
I think the display are of search si the easier area within which to innovate, creating a good gui that is easy to navigate is easier to do than finding a new way of indexing the web or developing a new algorithm to search in amore relevant manner. It will be interesting to see how all of these (and other) technologies fit together to create the next generation of search.
In other news, if you’re thinking of quitting Yahoo! (and it seems like many people are), here is easy to use resource for creating your resignation letter… (its multiple choice, so you can choose the tone)Related articles by Zemanta
- Microsoft buys Powerset, gets foot in semantic search door
- Microsoft silent on whether it will index Flash
UPDATE: it seems that implementing Live Cashback has had a positive effect on Microsoft’s market share in search