James Whittaker - About Google Search

The problem with Internet search is that being stupid about it is profitable. The more ugly blue links you serve up, the more time users have to click on ads. Serve up bad results and the user must search again and this doubles the number of sponsored links you get paid for. Why be part of the solution when being part of the problem pays so damn well? It's 2012 and we are still typing search queries into a text box. Now you know why, a 'find engine' swims in the shallow end of the profit pool. Is it any surprise that technology such as Siri came from a company that doesn't specialize in search? (Where do you place an ad in a Siri use case?)There's no more reason to expect search breakthroughs from Google than there is to expect electric car batteries to be made by Exxon.

Your success at search depends on how good you are at it and how much time you devote to it. Users have noticed and abandoned search in droves, particularly mobile search. They voted with their fingers and installed apps to do the search work for them. Apps are capable of sorting through just the portions of the web you might be interested in. Don't search the web for soccer scores, use an app. Don't search the web for hotel deals, use an app. Apps are better because they cut search out of the equation. Apps succeed in large part because search is so broken.

You want a prediction of the future? The trend of disappearing search will continue. The web will melt into the background and humans will progressively be removed from their labor intensive and frustrating present by automation. In five years the web is likely to be completely invisible. You will simply express your intent and the knowledge you seek will be yours. Users will be seamlessly routed to apps capable of fulfilling their intent. Apps won't need to be installed by a user; they will be able to find opportunities to be useful all by themselves, matching their capabilities with a user's intent. You need driving directions? Travel reservations? Takeout? Tickets to a show? Groceries? Tell your phone, it will spare you the ugly links. It will spare you the landing page. It will spare you the ads. It will simply give you what you asked for. This is already happening today, expect it to accelerate.

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