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Revving the search engine

Text by Sébastian SEIBT

Latest update : 2008-11-10

The famous search engine that propelled Google to unrivalled leadership of the market employs some 2,000 engineers in Silicon Valley, California. Though struggling to find their niche in Google’s shadow, competitors remain undeterred.

Google has been ruling over the search engine market for the last 10 years. Thanks to its 1,000 billion indexed pages, the website attracted 722 million visitors in July, and Web users use Google for their searches 62% of the time, a lion’s share of the Net compared to Yahoo! (28%) and MSN Live Search (8%).
 

Brimming with success, Google is entering new markets such as mobile phones. But Google's presence on different markets could lead the company astray. At Google’s headquarters, a spokesman denies they are forsaking their main mission. “More than half our engineers work on improving our search engine,” says a Google official. However, Martin Kallstrom, founder of Twingly, a search engine specialized in blogs, doesn’t believe this. “There hasn’t been any significant technological innovation since the algorithm that enables search engines to efficiently index great quantities of pages.”

  
Jealous ?

  
The search engine market attracts a lot of competitors. Wikipedia lists over 200 engines just waiting for their turn. But most of them will never be able to propose an all-round alternative to Google. “It’s possible to create a better search engine, but one would have to invest massively to equal their penetration of the market,” says Kallstrom.

  
One recent attempt to rival Google was Cuil. The creators of this search engine bet on its impressive calculating qualities which enable it to index a hundred billion pages. Google’s indexing costs are ten times higher. Unfortunately, “Cuil, was not quite ready when it was released and people used to Google’s simplicity found this inexcusable,” says François Bourdoncle, founder of Exalead, the world’s 4th research engine.

  
But the game is far from over. According to Bourdoncle, “There is a life beyond Google for vertical search engines.” Vertical search engines are more specialized and take into account sound tracks or extract menus on the restaurant websites for example,” says Martin Kallstrom. “The only way to compete with Google is to find a niche and work on expanding it,” he says.

  
However, Google is keeping an eye open. “Our aim is to create a universal search engine which would scan all types of media in its results,” explains a Google official. This means Google’s general search engine would integrate all the current niche developments.

Date created : 2008-10-28

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