Kumo: Now a Wrestling Metaphor

May 24, 2009

Richard Adhikari’s “Can a Semantic Kumo Wrestle Google to the Mat?” explores the Redmond giant’s most recent effort to make headway in the Web search market. Mr. Adhikari reported that Kumo incorporates the Powerset natural language processing technology Microsoft purchased last year via its Powerset acquisition. NLP allegedly gives a search system more ability to understand a user’s query. For me, the most interesting comment in the write up was this passage which has as its source an expert on search, Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group:

“Kumo was designed from the ground up to be a Google killer,” Enderle told TechNewsWorld. “Microsoft put a lot of effort into it.”

Mr. Adhikari then included this statement, the attribution of which struck me as ambiguous:

The project may be a costly one for Redmond. The amount of time and money Microsoft has spent on Kumo has caused deep divisions within the vendor’s management, Enderle said. “I understand a lot of people on the Microsoft board want them to stop this project,” he added. “They want Microsoft to focus on things they do well and not waste any more money.”

In my opinion, it’s tough to know if this set of assertions is 100 percent accurate. What is clear to are these points:

  • The Google “killer” metaphor is now almost obligatory. The issue for Microsoft is not doing better in search in the eyes of eCommerceTimes.com. The object is to kill Google. Can this be true? More than Powerset and marketing will be needed to impede Googzilla. It’s been a decade with zero progress and I keep thinking that try and try again is a great philosophy but a decade?
  • The Board dissention, if true, may accelerate the discussion of splitting Microsoft into three or four units and deriving more shareholder value from the aging software company. With its share price in the value range, a break up would add some spice to a plain vanilla stock.
  • The semantic theme is clearly a PR magnet. Semantics play a role in many search systems, but most of the plumbing is kept out of sight. Users want answers, not polysyllabic promises. Google, despite its flaws, seems to deliver a search suite that appeals to about 70 percent of the search market.

For more on this Microsoft Google tussle, see my Bing Kumo article here.


Comments are closed.

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta