The Animas Weblog has written a couple of interesting posts in response to Ebrahim Ezzy's Search 2.0 posts, featured on Read/WriteWeb recently (part 1 and part 2). In the first post, Animas frames his argument as a David vs Goliath struggle (the search 2.0 startups being, of course, David).
However in the Gospel according to Animas, sadly David gets smashed by Goliath:
"With few exceptions, I’m not convinced that any of the Search 2.0 companies have any technology that creates a meaningful barrier to competition from traditional engines."
In the follow-up post, Animas looks at the search 2.0 things that Google is doing "under the hood". Animas first argues that "Google’s ability to improve their search relevance in response to personalized usage data is pretty staggering." He/she (the name of the Animas blogger is unknown) then lists out the ways in which Google could already be improving their search relevance:
- AdWords clickthrough data (all advertisers, all queries)
- AdWords conversion tracking data (transaction tracking pixel offered to AdWords advertisers)
- Toolbar data (anyone have stats on the number of toolbars currently installed?)
- Google Analytics data (data for any websites participating in this free–for AdWords customers–program)
- Google Checkout
Also mentioned is Google’s Personalized Search. Animas notes, however, that social networking is something Google needs to improve (a point also made recently in a CNET article entitled Google's antisocial downside).
Animas' conclusion is that "Google is one step away from doing all of the things that the Search 2.0 companies in Ezzy’s writeup can do."
But actually, this was pretty much Ebrahim's conclusion too. At the end of Part 2 of Ebrahim's article was this statement:
"While the intelligence required to conduct social search still resides in people, the key to harnessing it lies in the network. TSEs have greater opportunities for traction, with their substantial user bases - a key ingredient of any social network."
Personally where I diverge from the Animas view is that I think the small search 2.0 startups have every chance of discovering something that Google (or Yahoo or MSN or Ask) haven't yet discovered. Just because Google has the technology and resources to improve their search relevance, doesn't necessarily mean they will.
Also, how do we know that what Google has under the hood is the equal of what one or two of the new generation of search 2.0 companies have under their hoods?
I asked Ebrahim what he thought about the Animas posts. His reply was that we've yet to see the PERFECT search 2.0 application. Ebrahim expects to see that by the end of the year. Of course, I imagine he's talking about his own search 2.0 startup Qube!
But the point is: don't count out David just yet ;-)