January 14, 2006

Opening Up the Search Tech Chain- Opportunities for Mashers and Pico-Agregators

Posted in innovate this!, Innovation at 5:09 pm by scottmaxwell

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.)


  1. Yakov said,

    I enjoy reading your blog. Answering your question, the last M&A deals in search demonstrate that the new search company would likely be acquired before it got any real VC funding. Did you check our final version? If no, you will have even more tools to create and edit a personal search engine in our software update to be released in two weeks.

  2. scottmaxwell said,

    thanks for the comment and good to hear from you. Your product and site looks great (http://www.quintura.com/). I expect that there will be a lot more VC backed deals related to search over the next few years (not necessarily search the way Google approaches it, but the general act of finding things via the internet).

  3. […] Following up my post on the opening of the search tech chain, I thought I might give a number of the things that I would like to see in search. […]

  4. […] Following up my post on the opening of the search tech chain, this is a second improvement that I would like to see: […]

  5. […] Following up my post on the opening of the search tech chain, the third opportunity that I see is with search-related mashups of various kinds (this is where the fun comes in!). […]

  6. […] Following up my post on the opening of the search tech chain, the fourth opportunity that I see is with getting back from a search exactly what I am looking for (a.k.a., user intent). There seem to be various issues and approaches to resolving this issue. I love Google (it looks like Fred Wilson likes Yahoo even more), but I think there are a lot of improvement opportunities available for getting me what I want a lot more quickly (of course, this cuts down on opportunities to show me advertising which could be an EXTREME disincentive for the large search engines to execute well here). […]

  7. […] Following up my post on the opening of the search tech chain, the fifth opportunity that I see is with improved tagging. (While tagging may not be thought of in a traditional search sense, the reason for tags is to find things, so I include it here.) […]

  8. […] Following up my post on the opening of the search tech chain, the next few opportunities start getting slightly more technical. The sixth opportunity that I see is with more useful features in the search feature vectors and the mathematical combination of entries in those vectors. Briefly, the current features that I can use to extract resources in the major search engines are word-based where each resource can be retrieved based on a series of words. (Note that this is not completely accurate, as there are a few other features that could be searched on such as language, file format, date of update, and domain suffix but the vast majority of the entries in the vector currently represent words). […]

  9. […] Following up my post on the opening of the search tech chain, the seventh opportunity that I see is with machine learning of various kinds. If you are not familiar with machine learning, take a look at Tom Mitchell’s book on the topic (funny, when I punched “machine learning” into Google, the first entry was an advertisement from Google asking “Want to work at Google?”) […]

  10. […] Following up my post on the opening of the search tech chain, the eighth opportunity that I see is with machine extraction and, even better, “linking” material from machine extraction. While this is really a subset of machine learning, the concept is different enough to discuss separately. The basic idea is how can you extract information from the web and put it into a more structured and, more importantly, accurate form. Then, how can you infer the relationships between the data elements that you have extracted. […]

  11. […] This is a summary of my series on Opening up the Search Tech Chain. The major point is that opening up the search technology model will have some great effects on all of the possible innovations around the model. The post the opening of the search tech chain discusses my argument for the opening up of the tech value chain and links to some other bloggers thoughts and resources on OpenSearch and the opening of the Alexa A9 search engine platform for others to innovate on. […]

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