The Lone Wolf Librarian posted an article earlier this month challenging recently-turned-ten Google on its claim that search was 90% solved. That article got my attention. It is an excellent read all by itself but what really caught my eye was the reference to an LA Times blog interview with Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president of search products and user experience. When asked what the next ten years holds for Google, Ms. Mayer makes this statement:
I think there will be a continued focus on innovation, particularly in search. Search is an unsolved problem. We have a good 90 to 95% of the solution, but there is a lot to go in the remaining 10%.
“There is a lot to go in the remaining 10%” is a huge understatement. While no one knows for sure, the deep web, where the non-Googleable database content lives, is commonly considered to be several hundred times larger than the surface web. So, even if Google has solved the whole surface web problem, they have only solved a fraction of the whole search problem. This is good news for those who make a living selling federated search solutions.
I suppose that another way to look at that “90 to 95% solved” statement is to consider that perhaps 90 to 95% of search users are satisfied with what Google provides. That’s fine for users looking for consumer-oriented content. Researchers certainly don’t believe that the search problem is mostly solved or the organizations that support their work wouldn’t be investing in federated search solutions.
If the search problem is nearly solved by Google as a pre-teen, what does Ms. Mayer predict for young adult Google at 20?
I would guess we will still have a very strong interest in search. Understanding search has always been at our core. Clearly we have a very strong advertising business online. I would hope that Google would remain a large player in that. I really hope that the way people use computers in their everyday lives evolves in a way that takes advantage of the cloud, the data centers and the data storage capabilities we have.
I’m not quite sure what to make of that statement except that search and revenue from search will continue to be important to Google. Garett Rogers, at ZDNet, makes his own predictions of Google at 20. And, some of the comments to Rogers’ post are quite entertaining.
By the way, when exactly is Google’s birthday? As far as I can tell, both of my nieces have no trouble deciding when to celebrate their birthdays but Google struggles with the question. There was a link yesterday, at the Google search page, to their tenth birthday page. So, I thought yesterday was the big day. But, the timeline on the birthday page shows that Google incorporated on September 4, 1998. So, I’m confused. There are even other dates to choose from. For those who really care, the Lone Wolf Librarian is kind enough to point us to a blog article that helps us to understand why it’s not clear when Google’s birthday actually is.
I do have to say that, overall, I really like Google. What it does it does really well — the other 99.8% it should leave to the grownups.