January 14, 2006
Opening Up the Search Tech Chain- Opportunities for Mashers and Pico-Agregators
This post from Kid Mercury nails the future openness of the search business model. It seems to me that the innovation potential of search is best done by breaking open the value chain and allowing individual components to be innovated and recombined with mashups of various kinds (which is going to lead to a massive number of domain-specific search engines/portals, among other things).
Google does an awesome job with search (and, separately, an awesome job executing on Bill Gross’s advertising model), but the entire system will (eventually) work better as individual components get exposed, improved, and mashed by many rather than few. Also, Google already has a lock-up on the general search users. Few would switch for a service that was just equal, so why not open up and improve the world of search? I point to at least some of their issues in my post on innovation (yes, Google is quickly becoming Goliath).
Interestingly, just as IBM has helped to bring Open Source to the mass market to (at least in part) help reduce Microsoft’s strength in the market, Microsoft may be quietly starting to promote an open search model to help reduce Google’s strength in the market (Kid Mercury points to IE7′s announced use of OpenSearch, but I am sure that Microsoft has many many additional initiatives to either win the game or at least break Google’s economic model by changing the gamel).
Even more aggressive is Amazon as the lead open search innovator, with A9′s development and promotion of OpenSearch (smart strategic move!) and, as Michael Parekh points out, the Alexa web search platform. Check out the (pico-domain-specific) example that Alexa offers up, the camera Image search. Not a mashup, but a good example of things to come.)
I can’t help but think that this trend (and end-game) offers a great set of opportunities for innovative companies to distill, aggregate and mash. Clearly, a lot of issues to work out, but it makes a lot of sense that the open search world is coming. They only question in my mind is “how soon?” (actually, I have another question swirling, which is how fast will new company formation in this area lead to good investment opportunities for the VCs.)