John Batelle recently wrote a great post about the shift from static to real-time search. To paraphrase he says that Google is/was awesome because for the first time, you could quickly and accurately get static information about any search term. Though this strength is also a flaw. By nature, newer content will have a lower page rank and thus appear farther down in search results. The emerging “liveweb” will be able to answer the question “What are people saying about X right now?” The current best example of this is Twitter Search. But this isn’t enough. The question I really want to ask (and the real moneymaker) is “What are people I trust saying about X right now?”
A few examples where static search is insufficient:
- Breaking news/current events (we’ve seen many examples where Twitter breaks news stories first – i.e. San Diego Fires, Mumbai Terrorist Attacks, etc..,) Many times Twitter is able to provide (arguably) more accurate real-time reports that the news that traditional news outlets later pick up on. While Google is incorporating News Results at the top of it’s list:
It’s still not enough if I want to get a grasp on the current situation/perspective/events occurring now (though interestingly enough the NYTimes ad on the right is incorporating real-time content).
- Finding the amount of times people are searching/mentioning a term – Google Trends allows you to verify the pretty obvious fact that searches for Santa tend to spike at the end of the year, but did you know Canadians were the most actively searching for Santa and that progressively each year less people are asking Google about him?
The equivalent of this is Facebook Lexicon (interestingly no label on the y-axis, not useful for an actual research tool) and Twitter Twist (been down for quite a while). This is huge for PR and Product companies who want to be able to monitor how much buzz a person/event/product are receiving.
- Product Reviews / Social Shopping – When most people want to buy a product online, they head to Google. This is why advertising on search is a big moneymaker (as opposed to advertising on social networks which is seriously struggling – people go to Facebook to waste time, flirt, look at pictures of their friends drunk and write each other stupid messages, not buy products). There have been a bunch of entrants into this market but none so far has provided a compelling product and achieved critical mass. Hopefully now with Facebook Connect/Google Friend Connect, someone will make this possible. If I’m looking for a camera, I want to know which camera my friends use and love, then find the cheapest place to buy it. The first person who makes this easy to do (using my Facebook social data) is going to make a killing.
Google dominates static search, Twitter knows what you are doing, Facebook controls your social graph and Apple knows where you are. The company able to blend all of these services (static, real-time, social, and location), while maintaining the strictest privacy controls, which will dominate the next era of the web