Virtuous cycle

Bartlomiej Owczarek weblog

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Google solved 90% of search: Microsoft has a problem

Microsoft believes that search is still far from maturity. Steve Ballmer emphasized how much search sucks currently at recent analyst day presentation. “It’s still 10 blue links on a white page”. “50% of searches don’t solve the problem”. And so on.

It’s important for Microsoft to believe that search is still a space for radical innovation, because to say otherwise would be to admit that the game is over and that Google won it. Customers are unlikely to switch from Google, unless other vendor presents a serious advantage over Google’s search.

On the other hand, Marissa Mayer just described a slightly different view on future of search, a future of incremental (and laborious) improvements rather than disruptive innovations:

(afterward she softens this point somehow – guess the original message might have not resonated well with Google’s investors)

Search is a 90-10 problem. Today, we have a 90% solution: I could answer all of my unanswered Saturday questions, not ideally or easily, but I could get it done with today?s search tool. (If you?re curious, the answers are below.) However, that remaining 10% of the problem really represents 90% (in fact, more than 90%) of the work.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, it is Google who is best positioned to use its critical mass to slowly but surely improve search.

Google might be actually right in its view of the market, but search (information retrieval) is not the end of the story, right…