Google Is Yesterday: Apps, Not Search, the Future

March 10, 2014

I read “Google Searches for role in App Age.” This is a for fee item, so you will need to pony up money or buy a copy of the dead tree edition of the March 10, 2014, Wall Street Journal. If you have a WSJ account, here’s your link, gentle reader, and click on the “Top Stories in Tech” by Rolfe Winkler. You may want to try this link too. Great name, Rolfe.

The point of the write up for those who have not been watching Google with Murdochesque eye wear is that mobile users use apps. Mobile users are not too hip to the Web search thing.

According the the write up:

On a phone, links to apps often are more useful than Web links. The apps may be tuned for the smaller screen, and tap features of the phone, like knowing a user’s location, to provide more relevant information: the Open Table app can automatically show restaurants nearby.

Be still my heart. The write up points out:

Speaking at a conference last week, Nikesh Arora, Google’s chief business officer, said that while mobile ads are less lucrative than desktop ones today, he believes in the long-term mobile ad revenue “will be a multiple” of desktop ads due to all the extra information smartphones can capture about their users.

Was the WSJ expecting Google to watch as Facebook wormed into the global social app opportunity?

Several observations:

  1. Google is based on doing a better job of Web search than Fast Search & Transfer did
  2. Google is based on an idea developed by GoTo, implemented by Overture, and a once opportunity rich play by Yahoo
  3. The Google train has been chugging down the Web search path for more than a decade. Trains age.

Just as the automobile put the nose lock on trains, Google is working overtime to make sure its momentum does not abate. But an airplane-like breakthrough may be looming.

Will Google be able to generate revenue from its many side ventures so that top line revenue does not suffer erosion? Will Google be able to deal with a business model built on the missteps of Alta Vista, Fast Search’s vision that enterprise search was its future, and Yahoo’s stumbles?

These are interesting questions. Just as Amazon struggles to put lipstick on the pig of its soaring costs, Google seems to be frantically rummaging through its cosmetics drawer and “searching” for a plastic surgeon to make sure it is one compelling creature.

Barges, balloons, bio-engineering—perhaps these are the future of Google or not. Even the WSJ closes its somewhat shallow write up with a nod to Facebook’s “mobile app ads for engagement.” No matter. Search is not dead, but it is increasingly marginalized.

Stephen E Arnold, March 10, 2014


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