Microsoft is Opening its Wallet for Search

Three weeks after making a $1.2 billion bid for FAST search & Transfer Microsoft announces that they make a $44.6 billion offer to buy Yahoo. So far it‘s only an offer which Yahoo’s board and stockholders are considering but, to conclude, Microsoft is serious about going into strategic search markets.

Web search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, are making really good money from online advertising such as contextual ads when searching, banners etc. This market is, according to analyst firms such as Yankee group, predicted to double over the next four years giving somewhere between $40- $50.3 billion in revenue.
Google is still a leader within this field, but it seems as if the competition is getting tougher.

Apart from web search there has also been a lot of talk about mobile search, a new emerging market where Yahoo last year made an acquisition of TellMe, a hosted speech applications company. Since this purchase Yahoo has done development for using its online advertising platform Panama for local mobile search and services as well.

If the offer is accepted Microsoft will have a strong portfolio, reaching from critical enterprise search with FAST technology and consumer focused search with Yahoo.
(An interesting perspective is the historical background where FAST developed AlltheWeb, one of the most popular and sophisticated internet search engines in the beginning of 21:st century, which in 2003 was sold to Overture and later bought by Yahoo.)

If the future holds a merger of advanced search technologies remains to be seen, but we will probably see some really interesting development within this field the forthcoming year.
What is your opinion? Can this affect Google’s position as a leader within web search? And more importantly, how do you think Microsoft’s purchases will affect the market for search in general?

Internet life in the Future

I always think it’s nice when I hear people talking about the same things that are on my mind these days. It makes me reflect upon things in new ways and also makes me realize that I’m on to something. I attended a presentation by Björn Jeffery from Good Old (hosted by Region Västra Götaland). His talk on internet strategy was interesting and had many things in common with the keynote by Elizabeth Churchill (Yahoo) that I recently heard at the HCI2007 conference. Two things interested me most; the future of mobility and the inevitable question of integrity. So here are my thoughts today, on internet strategy and the future of internet usage.

Integrity

Today young people have become used to using different web 2.0 technologies such as Flickr, Facebook, Delicious etc. So we have seen the emergence of things such as social search and folksonomies. People gladly contribute with information about themselves and what they think and like. I believe this is a good thing, but there are also some risks with this. These risks are that once something is on the internet and is indexed, it’s out there and it stays there. Many people are not aware of that fact. How do you keep your integrity when everything about you can be found online? Integrity is very important when implementing these solutions in an enterprise setting.

How can people contribute without having to share their stuff with everyone else if they don’t want to? Björn Jeffery mentioned that we’ve gone from sharing nothing with noone to sharing everything with everyone and that he thought this would change back to us sharing a lot of things with many people. I hope he’s right. Teenagers might note care who they share their stuff with, but security and integrity are vital issues when considering enterprise solutions.

Mobility

In these days mobility has become an important thing. We not only expect to be able to find the information we need but to find it whenever we want from where ever we want to. I am actually writing this blog post on a train, and off course I expect to have access to all Findwise and other resources from here as well. As technology changes our behavior and expectations change with it, and so does society. (I covered excitement generators in a previous post about Jared Spools keynote on HCI2007.)

“I don’t use computers, love. This is just the internet”.

quote from Elizabeth Churchills keynote

Today there is no longer an association between internet and the computer screen. Mobile phones have become an increasingly popular way of accessing the internet. So, you can use search to access all your company’s information from a single point of access when ever you need it. Then maybe next step is mobile search on your intranet? That would not only make information become available at all time but from where ever you might be, and exactly when you want it.

So in conclusion of these talks; I think that in the future we will want to be able to access everything from everywhere at any time. We used to talk about time we spent online. That distinction isn’t really there any more. Today our tasks are interweawed, we don’t separate time we spend online and offline. (Something that becomes painfully obvious when trying to work on the train when you’ve forgotten the usbconnection for the mobile internet.) And in that time we spend online we also need to define what things we want to share with whom. If we as designers can solve these things, I think we’re on to something promising.

The Flexibility of Internet Search

The expression “have you googled it?” meaning “did you search for it on the internet?” shows what an impact the worlds most valuable brand has made on people.

However, new development has provided several new and flexible ways of using search. The traditional way of searching often helps you find specific information that you know exist (presented in endless hit lists). Another approach is to let search help you find the things you didn’t know existed, but most likely help you put things into new perspectives.

One example is the recommended search solutions, such as music map or live plasma, which finds music or movies that are related to your search term and that you most likely will appreciate. Another example is what to rent that, by using different people’s preferences and searches, can recommend a good movie for your weekend.

Interesting and innovative approaches are also made by Chacha (a people powered search engine that actually has real people guiding you in the information jungle, helping you explore new information) and Speeglebot (that talks to you).

I could go on and on about these new solutions, but instead just conclude by saying that search provides the platform for gathering loads of knowledge from different sources and people, and presenting it in new ways! Keep your eyes open for these upcoming solutions, it won’t be long until it is used within your enterprise to find related information and people that will revolutionize your way of finding information.