Google’s Lead

Is Google so far in the lead that no competitor will ever catch up? Gregory Ferenstein examines Google, competition and the one, perfect result ( Washington Post, Jan 4).

Producing the single correct answer is Google’s ultimate aim – this was roughly the message Eric Schmidt delivered in 2005 – “We should be able to give you the right answer just once. We should know what you meant. You should look for information. We should get it exactly right.”

Knowledge Graph is an expression of this by which Google provides information capsules on people, places, and some other entities.

Google uses semantic technologies in many other ways to understand the query. One interesting example given in this article is Google’s responses to searches for restaurants, made possible by its acquisition of Zagat.

“The search giant could, thanks to its acquisition of Zagat, recommend a reviewed restaurant, provide a map to that location, and a sponsored coupon before a user was presented with other search results.”

Where does that leave other restaurant search engines and map competitors such as Yelp and Microsoft’s Bing?

Google is also talking about delivering information before you think to ask the question. The application is in day-to-day situations. In fact, the research study done by Wiley for Google was called the ‘Daily Information Needs Study’. (How Google Plans to Find the Ungoogleable, MIT Technology Review, Nov 27, 2012)

“Contextual information provided by mobile devices—via GPS chips and other sensors—can provide clues about a person and his situation, allowing Google to guess what that person wants. “We’ve often said the perfect search engine will provide you with exactly what you need to know at exactly the right moment, potentially without you having to ask for it,” says Wiley.”

Google Now on an Android device does some anticipation today for directions, weather, sports scores – and it does this partly by knowing where you are through GPS.

It’s a brave new world – and Google has it by its horns. As Ferenstein points out – these advances “stand to increasingly shrink the potential role of competitors”.

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