Blekko, Curation, and American Searchers

November 2, 2010

I agree with most of the points in “Sorry, Blekko Is Doomed.” Here’s an example of a comment similar to one I made to the worms and ants around the goose pond earlier this year:

Yes, search engines could do a much better job of telling you which restaurants you should eat at, which cameras you should buy, and many other things–but, again, the reason search is weak on those queries generally isn’t a Demand Media problem.  It’s an imperfect information and subjectivity problem (which is where social media comes in.)

I think that bright young people recognize that search is generally good and often pretty lousy. I can’t figure out if I am lucky or unlucky to get a chance to see new search systems, decision support solutions, and data fusion implementations. There are new search systems coming down the dirt road that comprises America’s online infrastructure.

The challenge is making money. Google has been unchallenged in a meaningful way for more than a decade. As a result, Google fervently hopes that it will be able to maintain the charade that it accounts for about 60 percent of the search traffic. I believe that Google wants another vendor to capture some market share. Once the Google’s actual dominance of search becomes known, the “m” word becomes an even bigger deal. M, in this case, means monopoly.

However, the Google killer will not appeal to a small subset of American searchers. In my view, Google is doomed to become a $100 billion a year company and less and less important. Think about IBM or Microsoft. Neither company is that important to the average person. Google’s on the same path.

There are four reasons:

  1. Google is effectively neutralized at this time in some important markets. China? Russia? India?
  2. Google has lost the cachet of THE hot company. Say what you want. Facebook is the next big deal. Orkut? The Google Facebook killer? Buzz? Wave?
  3. Google has diluted its brand’s impact with legal hassles, executives who say and do things that make the residents of Harrod’s Creek ask, “What? I have to move?”
  4. Google is now perceived as an advertising company that has after 12 years been able to diversify into more advertising. Google Search Appliance? Knol?

I wish Blekko well. I think another search engine will help me in my research. However, I am not Chinese or Russian. I don’t live in Mumbai. Those and similar non US sectors that will spawn an alternative to Google. Google’s problem, like Blekko’s, is that it is a company designed for American searchers. That’s not where the future is pitching its tent. American’s want a Happy Meal for finding information. Complex queries and real synthesis are like a day old McRib.

Stephen E Arnold, November 2, 2010



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