Google copying ideas?

September 11, 2008 in en, rant

Google’s Marissa Mayer (head of Search Products & User Experience dep.) today wrote blog post about current limitations of search and possible future improvements. All in all very interesting article where she compares current search to biology of 16th-17th century.
[search is] a new science where we make big and exciting breakthroughs all the time. However, it could be a hundred years or more before we have microscopes and an understanding of the proverbial molecules and atoms of search. Just like biology and physics several hundred years ago, the biggest advances are yet to come.

I can only concur. Search is relatively easy for tech savvy people. But the common mother of three will have problems formulating her search queries and picking right keywords for the job. There is still a lot of work ahead of Google it’s search boffins.

What made me write this article though was this excerpt:

Our presentation is still very linear (the results are just a list) and even (no one result is more important or larger than the next). What if the results page began to transform radically to really harness these different types of results into something that felt much more like an answer rather than just 10 independent guesses? What if results pages pulled the best media together and laid it out such that the most useful content was not only first but largest? What if we laid out content in columns to use more of the width available on newer, wider screens?

Does it remind you of anything? To me it does. Few weeks ago there appeared a new player in search engine wars. It’s name is Cuil. It does exactly the things that Mayer is thinking about changing. Multiple column results, (mostly) relevant media added to search results and completely different layout. Google has lot of smart people, so I would not be surprised if they were working on revamping Google homepage completely for some time. But the timing of these ideas is not very convincing for me. In the end it’s the end user who wins because we should not care about the search engine, but the results.