The search industry in the future

Google and Microsoft

Technology Review, the prestigious MIT magazine, publishes a lengthy article by Charles H. The beginning of it coincides with a reflection we made a little over a month ago (Microsoft: the strength of a monopoly). In short, it highlights the pulse between the two in a context in which the peaceful coexistence of the two giants seems impossible.

Until now, the competition in the "search industry" was limited to the Web and has been determined algorithm by algorithm, certain features and websites. This competition has resulted in a duopoly: Google and Yahoo. If nothing changes, Microsoft's growth in the search business would lead us to an oligopoly. Without underestimating Yahoo, on the one hand is Microsoft's persistence in its goals with a run of past successes against its competitors. And on the other the dynamism and the results obtained so far by Google.

The potential of the "search industry"

For Charles H. Ferguson the "search industry" will soon serve more than just a consumer market-based web. That "something else" will include an industrial market for software products and services companies, a mass market for so-called "personal productivity" through communications software, and software and services for a host of new consumer products. Microsoft's strategy with its MSN direct “smart watches” would fit fully into this framework.

The search tools will not only "crawl" documents such as Microsoft Office and PDF, but also e-mail, instant messages, music, images; With the developments in voice recognition, Internet telephone and broadband, it will also be possible to index and search telephone conversations, voice mails and video files. All of these new search products and services will have to work together and with other systems. This, in short, requires standards.

Control of standards

Ferguson recalls that Microsoft's strategy has always been governed by the creation and control of industry ownership of these standards. Instead, Google's position is actually very fragile - as Ferguson points out -: Google is still the best search service and Gmail, Google Desktop and Google Deskbar are very cool (“very cool”). But this is all there is. So far, nothing prevents users from switching (painlessly and quickly) to Microsoft services and software, especially if these are integrated into the Microsoft products that people already mostly use.

Search standards will drive huge growth for the industry and provide many benefits to users. But this standardization would also introduce a new and destabilizing force in the sector. Instead of competing through improvements in the quality and quantity of their search services, Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo will be forced to compete for control of this industry's standards. Steve Jurvetson from a Californian venture capital firm, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, maintains that this issue is like a "holy war" for Microsoft and they cannot afford to lose it.

In short, the search industry would be poised for an "architectural war."

(To be continued in the next few days)


  • Google, Yahoo and Microsoft
  • Microsoft: the strength of a monopoly
  • Doubts about the impact of Microsoft's search technology

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