Travel way back to Google-date 2001 thanks to Google’s 10th year birthday celebration. The company has made its oldest recorded index live and searchable through an easter egg. Search results include links to the wayback machine.
Ah, 2001. Webmonkey was there and owned by Lycos. The internet bubble broke, and there was a brief period of time when it was considered a fad by middle managers and financial pundits everywhere.
What does the future of search look like? That’s the question Google’s Vice President of Search and User Experience, Marissa Mayer, recently tackled over at the official Google blog.
Mayer’s post outlines some areas where Google plans to expand in the next ten years — Universal Search, more mobile device options and other nebulous ideas. The post is reportedly a response to a recent LA Times interview where Mayer says that “the search problem” is “90-95 percent” solved.
Mayer’s more recent post backpedals from that statement invoking the well-known 80/20 rule to suggest that while search maybe 90-95 percent done, the last 10 percent will be 90 percent of the work.
Another interesting thing that jumps out if you read both articles is the conspicuous absence of financial goals in the Google post. In the LA TImes piece Mayer talks about “monetizing new forms of content” and Google’s advertising aims, but in the Google post there’s no mention of money, just warm fuzzy we’re-working-hard-to-help-you anecdotes.
So what is Google planing for the next ten years? Well Mayer doesn’t get too specific, but she does say that, “search needs to be more mobile — it should be available and easy to use in cell phones and in cars and on handheld, wearable devices that we don’t even have yet.”
One idea (which Mayer calls far-fetched) is “a wearable device that does searches in the background based on the words it picks up from conversations, and then flashes relevant facts?”
Along with ads we presume.
But fashion faux pas aren’t Google’s only vision for the future of search. Other ideas include making Google’s Universal Search experiment more prominent. “For the past year, our goal has been to take advantage of these new types of results and evolve the interface design and user experience in response,” Mayer writes. She goes on to say that we’ll “see the fruits of this experimentation in the coming months.”
So Google is aware that the ten blue links per page isn’t going to cut it for another decade, but how does that dovetail with expanded mobile options? Media rich search results like Universal Search require more bandwidth, speedy mobile search requires less bandwidth, where do the two meet? Mayer doesn’t say.
About the same time Mayer’s post went up, long-time Google watcher Philipp Lenssen posted his own fictionalized take on the next ten years of Google, looking back at the company’s demise from the year 2018. While Lenssen’s piece is fictional, and intended to be humorous, there’s something about it that rings true.
Just as few in 1998 could have predicted that Google would grow the way it has in the past ten years, we suspect that the major search player of the next decade is probably a yet-unknown identity.
Does that mean Google will disappear? Of course not, but no one stays on top forever, just ask the once mighty IBM.
The feature finds possible matches to search terms as the user types. While it may seem old now, it was a Google innovation. Suggest was first created in 2004 and made developers clamor to figure out how it was done. This was before the term “Ajax” was coined and well before it was overused.
Google does not make a homepage change lightly. For this reason, many assumed Suggest would never be made the default experience of most users who go directly to Google.com to search.
Even though it’s fast, I’m not sure iPhone users will see much of the new service, unless perhaps they place a bookmark on their home screen. The search box in mobile Safari is so handy, and it doesn’t require loading a web page before typing search terms. Then again, if keystrokes are more important than load time (which, again, is fast, this become the choice of the iPhone finger weary.