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Gap Between Google and Competition Widening 188

eldavojohn writes "Business Week has up an article trying to explain why it is getting harder and harder to 'catch' Google in the search engine game. We've heard of many different kinds of search engines and many different companies entering the market but: '... Google keeps gaining share in the face of newly launched capabilities on other engines. In August, Google sites gained 6.8 percentage points of search share from a year earlier, according to researcher comScore Media Metrix. Meantime, Yahoo lost 1 percentage point, Microsoft's sites lost 3.3 percentage points, and lost one-half of a percentage point.' All of this on the heels of recent news that A9 scaled back its features. Is it possible to think of a number better than a one with a hundred zeros behind it?"
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Gap Between Google and Competition Widening

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  • Inertia (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fabioaquotte ( 902367 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @09:51AM (#16335715) Homepage
    Inertia is a powerful thing, people tend to not change services unless the one they are using has serious flaws, or a new one with a "must have" feature shows up.

    Unless someone comes up with a revolutionary feature for search engines, Google won't be losing terrain any time soon.
  • Best technology. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jerk City Troll ( 661616 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @09:53AM (#16335731) Homepage

    It may actually be that anyone has yet to best any technology offerings Google has, hence nobody is able to challenge their dominance. Apart from that, Google is hardly a monopoly. You have a wide selection of search engines and nobody is forcing you to use any of them over the other.

  • by el_womble ( 779715 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @10:06AM (#16335901) Homepage
    Google have won this round of the search engine game. As far as keyword search goes, there is no reason for me to switch. They're free, they're fast, they almost always get the info I'm looking for in the first couple of links. There is simply no incentive to change. Unless google feck up (start to support wars/slavery so it becomes political, add one feature too many, finally stop with the search results and just returns ads)

    However, its not sewn up. What I really want is a search engine that actually understands what I'm asking for. Rather than a library index, what I want is a librarian. The company that get that right will be the overal winners... but thats decades away - and I imagine it will come from left field, just like Google did.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @10:09AM (#16335931) Journal
    OK let us assume for a second Google is the defacto monopoly in search engine business. MSFT is the defacto monopoly in OS business. Are they same?

    I dont think so. Google operates in a field where the switching cost to the user is zero. If GOOG does not deliver, it is extremely easy for the user to switch to a competing search engine. So I dont feel threatened by GOOG. But MSFT monopoly was created by increasing the switching cost to the user. It realized long before its customers, the key to revenue is lock them in. MSFT effectively confused interoperability with IBM-PC compatibility and later Windows compatibility and got bulk of the users locked in. As long as it prices its products, mainly MS Office a tad less than what it would cost the corporations to switch t a competing product they will keep raking money in. And they use the money to make sure that the playing field does not get leveled ever again.

    So GOOG can keep its only if it constantly innovates and provides a better service than its competitor. As long as there is competitive pressure on a company, I dont begrudge any billions they rake in. But I strongly resent even pennies made by unfair companies that do not have the burden of competition. Cable monopolies, electicity utilities, MSFT, teacher unions, anyone who found a way to dodge the pressure of competition irks me. Because I am under so much pressure to constantly learn and fight off competitors 20 years younger than me who are gunning for my job.

  • by Rocketship Underpant ( 804162 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @10:20AM (#16336047)
    Google is, generally, the best search engine for English, and it's normalization is quite good -- i.e. widening the search to include plurals or singulars, recognize words that might need accent marks, and so on.

    But frankly, Google and Pagerank suck when it comes to searching in languages like Japanese. I can search for a Japanese company or item and get two pages of completely irrelevant links first. Not spam links, but junk like blog posts. Normalization sucks; Japanese uses a mixed script (phonetic kana plus Chinese characters), and Google does no conversion or normalization when searching. It would be a cinch for anyone to top Google in the huge Japanese market, and I think they're already getting pummelled by Chinese search engine.
  • by kabdib ( 81955 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @10:26AM (#16336123) Homepage
    Wrod. If you know that a particular database has your answer (Wikipedia, MSDN and online manuals) it's crazy to use a general purpose engine.

    I started using MSN Search about ten months ago. For the non-DB-specific searches that I do, I haven't missed Google at all (used it maybe once a month).

    Search engines are a commodity. Anyone who thinks they can keep an empire going on search is dreaming.

  • by Sea_of_Cortez ( 1010177 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @11:04AM (#16336629)
    Keep in mind that Business week is a major share holder of Google, via AOL-Timewarner who is parent of Business week. Also Google and AOL-Timewarner & Google have major, multi Billion dollar cross advertising deals. So that is why every few weeks Business week and one or more AOL-Timewarner media outlet comes up with a (propaganda) article/news about how great Google is and how much of a genius the Google founders are, etc. etc. BS about Google. After all they are making Billions of dollars from dumping Google shares on the public and making Billions of dollars from their cross advertising deals. If you want a really innovative search engine, one that is really good for the public, specially small businesses, like my own, check out AnooX: They are totally independent, hey they are not-for-profit!
  • by ghyd ( 981064 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @11:20AM (#16336857)
    The firefox embedded search engines changed me my googling (tm). The search engines I mainly use are: Amazon, wikipedia, some local computer shop, youtube (if I'm looking for, say, Maria Callas, youtube will have pertinent bits of video to look at), and other music related search engines. In the end, I removed google as my home page as for me it tends to become a secondary search engine [ie I look at it after using a more specialized search engine], even if I still use it a lot [ie in the end still more than any other search engine].
  • Re:Odd (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 5KVGhost ( 208137 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @01:17PM (#16338535)
    Yeah, I know what you mean. For example, I often visit Matt Denton's photography site ( His pages used to reside on Apple's free hosting service until he moved everything over to a dedicated domain. That was quite a while ago, six months at least, but Google still returns results on the now-404'd pages in preference to the identical content on his actual, live site. It doesn't seem like that should happen.
  • Re:Even better! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Reaperducer ( 871695 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @04:28PM (#16341311)
    Back before there was a Google, my nephew got in trouble for bringing up the googol in math class. My father told him about googol. The teacher told him he was making it up and gave him detention. Ah, the perils of the New Jersey public education system.
  • by drDugan ( 219551 ) * on Friday October 06, 2006 @11:09PM (#16344803) Homepage
    I went to hear Norvig talk this week at Parc and found his talk interesting, yet uninspiring. Sadly it was marketing.

    Like all large organizations, they have limited ability to focus on niche areas, and some of the really important niche areas they are completely ignoring. It really does always come back to limited resources.

    Why have they been unable to complete with YouTube, and instead they are in talks for buying them for 1.X Billion?

    Why do they have a litany of research projects that have limited to minimal adoption?

    Why are they still focused on the big-numbers word game when it's clear that even with 100 Trillion+ word corpuses, they still only achieve 70-90% accuracy for various language tasks? ...

    The answer to all of these questions is that they have a (massive) core business, and the focus of the company if to maintain and grow that core business. To really address the above issues and several other, critical ones toward their ultimate goal, they need to be "more different" than how normal, big companies operate. They need to separate out the core and build an internal financial ecology to mirror the outside world. They currently have an internal idea and development ecology - but that is not enough to incent the niche development internally.

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