Microsoft announced on Friday that they are ending their Live Search Books and their Live Search Academic projects. Whilst you can’t blame them, you can’t help but feel slightly disappointed at the increasing dominance of Google on the web. If Microsoft can’t give Google a run for their money, who can?
The first comment in response to Microsoft’s blog announcement pretty much explains why Live Search Books and Live Search Academic are closing down “…this is first time i hear about book search…”. After the initial buzz around the launch of the services, they quickly dropped into the background with few people using them. It wasn’t just about monetizing the service, it was about getting people to use them. Personally I found them very un-user-friendly, and at one stage I seem to remember having to access Live Search Academic with Firefox as is it wasn’t compatible with the latest version of Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer. Whilst there have been numerous academic papers investigating Google Scholar, I can’t recollect one investigating Live Search Academic. Most people just didn’t like the services.
However, whilst I can’t mourn the passing of the poor Live Search Books and Live Search Academic, I can’t help but worry about the unstoppable Google behemoth. One of the first questions I ask of any new innovative service is: “Can this break Google’s domination?”. Unfortunately, all too often, the answer is no.
I have not had a chance to check out the blogosphere today, but I am guessing that there is only one big story, Microsoft’s offer of $44.6bn in cash and shares for Yahoo. Whilst the rumour has been spreading for a while that either Google or Microsoft would buy out Yahoo, it is still a shock to read that the offer has been made. Personally I would like to see Yahoo compete successfully as an independent company, but if it has to be bought I would rather see it bought by Microsoft than Google.
Google is too powerful a web presense, especially in the realm of search. Having a single organisation that provides access to all the information on the web doesn’t really bare thinking about, but that is the situation we seem to be (sleep)walking towards. Surely we have passed the point where Google’s success in web search has meant that it has broken its “do no evil” philosophy.
This is the wake-up call that we need to start breaking the Google addiction. Personally I will be heading to Ask.com for my searching…as long as I remember.
Microsoft have announced their biggest update to Live Search since its debut. Unfortunately whilst everyone seems to be talking about it, noone is raving about it; whilst it is accepted as an important piece of news, noone seems to think it is a particularly exciting bit of news. The general belief seems to be that the search wars are over (at least in the U.S. and the U.K) and that Google has won. Personally I live in the hope that the existing players manage to take back some of Google’s excessive portion of the search market, and that there will be serious new entrants in the market.
I hate the fact that Google currently deals with over 60% of all searches, and feel ashamed every time I find myself typing in ‘www.google.com’ in a zombie-like trance; no single organisation should have such powerful influence over access to information on the web. When Google entered the search market they raised the bar of expections for search engines, and as yet (many year later) the other search engines have failed to succesfully reply. That is not to say they won’t, but rather that it is going to take something truely new and innovative. The new search engines at the moment seem to just be rehashing old ideas, with some being a repackaging of a directory and others going for the conversational English that failed in the original Ask Jeeves.
As more users start creating on the web, rather than just consuming, there are many new sources of information for a search engine to tap into; rich, formated information. The successful search engines are likely to be those that find the best ways of making use of this new information.