Creating Search Confusion

May 13, 2009

In the old days of fear, uncertainty, and doubt, one could count of giant software companies to baffle customers. The idea was that if a customer is not sure what to do, that customer will do nothing or go with the name brand.

Now media giants are creating FUD in the Web search space and, in some cases, muddying the water for enterprise search systems as well. Not a great example but a pretty good one is the article “New Search Engines Aspire to Supplement Google” here. The story ran on the Web site.

The write up runs through a laundry list of alternative search engines; for example, Hakia (semantic system), Kosmix (Google centric mash up system), Wolfram Alpha (yet to be released system). The main point of the article, in my opinion, was this statement:

Instead of trying to be Google killers, these sites have more humble aspirations: to be alternatives to the industry giants.

The idea is one that I have been stating since the publication of my 2005 The Google Legacy here; namely, Google’s advantage is scale, cost control, and incremental improvements that are tough for most users and competitors to spot.

There’s another message in this article, and I think it is important. Newcomers in search are not going to knock off, slow, or kill Google quickly. Most of the systems are utilities.

The problem that is not addressed is that the average user has zero information about which search utility to use, under what circumstances, and how the returns enhance or duplicate what Google outputs.

In my work, when a user is confronted with a new search system, some users will test the system. The vast majority of users follow the well worn ruts that have worked in the past. For an astounding number of people worldwide, search means Google.

The challenge for the user is to figure out which new system delivers a payoff and then the new system vendor has to work quite hard to get those users habituated. With new search engines creating a global PR knee jerk, the result is that users will do the turtle; that is, pull in their head and go with what they know. The choice right now seems Google.

Stephen Arnold, May 13, 2009


2 Responses to “Creating Search Confusion”

  1. Content Intelligence – busca que analisa a estrutura das frases « Tecnologia Educacional on June 4th, 2009 12:24 am

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  2. Conexão TE » Blog Archive » Content Intelligence – busca que analisa a estrutura das frases on November 9th, 2010 1:38 pm

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