So yesterday I downloaded onto my wonderful new Googomotozion Android phone Google Goggles. No, its not an application to optimize drunken hookups. It is visual search. Basically, you fire up the application, take a photo with your phone’s camera, and Google will scan the photo and look up information on that item. I gave it a quick test run yesterday and I have to say I was blown away. But its Google, I would expect as much. I took a quick photo of my work Laptop, which is a Lenovo, and ran it through Goggles. Not only did it spit out information on lap top computers, it actually delivered results specific to Lenovo!! Impressive to say the least. So similar to the Barcode Scanning applications for Android and iPhone, this app has a wide variety of possibilities from commerce and product comparison, to just looking up something that you encounter in your travels. I look forward to trying this out on other things to see how it performs.
Three straight posts on Google, but they appear to be in product release mode these days.
Here is an interesting analysis from eMarketer that notes while Search spending is steady, marketers are becoming frustrated with the results. The bellwether of the online marketing arsenal is showing some cracks in the armor. To be honest, this does not surprise me too much. Online users are getting more savvy with regards to online marketing, and search specifically (clicks on banner ads have been in free fall since the first one back on Wired in 1998). In turn, searchers are clicking less on paid results and increasingly looking more towards the “natural” results. They are searching for relevant conversations about whatever it is they are looking for. Further, we are seeing the behaviors of Searchers change over time too. Queries are becoming more complex, more in the form of natural language questions, and we are seeing a big rise in mobile search. Add this together and the result in less “advertisable” Search impressions – paid search is not as effective in matching against such complex queries, and mobile search has less physical space to deliver advertising. With less search impressions, there is less inventory, meaning prices will inherently rise while performance declines. Not a good equation if you are a marketer.
But I think this is another element of a much broader movement that is going on. What we are seeing validates the argument that will be outlined in Bob Garfield’s upcoming book The Chaos Scenario, where he outlines the massive changes that are and will be happening in the media world. In part, he argues that while the customers are still out there, they are placing less value in word of the marketers (or institutions) and more value in the advice of other customers:
“They’re still an audience,” he writes, “but they aren’t necessarily listening to you. They’re listening to each other talk about you.
Interesting times, interesting times.
I was playing around with the new Wolfram Alpha search engine. But its not really a search engine. Anyway, for a goof, I did a vanity search and the below is what was output. My first name is ranked 172nd, and approximately 1 in 935 people born have the first name Stephen. My name was most popular betwen 1950 and 1960, it has been in steady decline since then, and approximately 760,000 people alive today are named Stephen. Converse to the high birth rate in the 1950-60 timeperiod, the age distribution of those with the name Stephen has peaks with those in the 35-45 range and the 50-65 range. That is just cool.
This is a very interesting post about how Twitter search is dirupting Google from Silicon Alley Insider.
…time and time again disruptive business confuse adjacent innovation for disruptive innovation. They think they are still disrupting when they are just innovating on the same theme that they began with. As a consequence they miss the grass roots challenger, the real disruptor to their business. The company who is disrupting their business doesn’t look relevant to the billion dollar franchise, it’s often scrappy and unpolished, it looks like a sideline business, and often its business model is TBD. With the AOL story now unraveled, I now see search as fragmenting and Twitter search doing to Google what broadband did to AOL…
Obviously, Twitter is still in search of its business model, while Google is one of the most profitable companies in business. But the idea that something like Twitter could truly disrupt Google is a fascinating concept.
In a very interesting move, Google is now indicating if you are logged in when you are on their homepage (see red box in image above). This is a very interesting move in that it is taking them one deep step closer to “portal” land. But I think what is more interesting is how their homepage is, relatively speaking (of course), getting more cluttered now that there are several new services they are exposing on the homepage.
For the longest time, they have stayed true to their original simple design, and that has been a key factor in their growth. However, with all the new services they are launching and testing out via Google Labs for example, I think they may be challenged to keep the homepage uncluttered and focused on search while still giving equal exposure to new products such as Gmail, Google Maps and others. As the homepage stands now, I think its getting messy and looking a little amature-ish.
What is more interresting is when you look at the overall market that includes Yahoo, AOL, and now Google. Yahoo has always been the leader in the market and they have evolved from just an Web based service to one that includes several software applications that extend the Yahoo experience to the desktop. AOL started as a software application on the desktop that extended to the Internet. Now, they are going to focus more on Internet/Web based services while still offering the desktop software applications (AOL Client, AIM, etc.). And now Google is doing the same thing, with desktop applications such as Desktop Search, Gmail Notifier, etc. It seems that all of these online services are meeting at the desktop in a war to control how users access different services. And I have not even mentioned Microsoft, who still own the desktop but have been awful quiet recently.
It will be interesting to see how they evolve the homepage to bring forward the new features they are launching without detracting from their core Search product.
Update: In another interesting move, Google introduced a personalized homepage which pretty much signifies that they have jumped into the portal pool with both feet.
If you have not yet done so, go and download Google Desktop search. It will make searching for that lost document on your hard drive amazingly simple. As has been noted by Jason Kottke, this is a first step towards a GooOS for Google or something similar to such a concept. And we all know Microsoft will follow in short order.
Check out these Yahoo! Search Shortcuts recently released by Yahoo! Search. They are just some amazing tools for people to use to find most anything you may need. And I think the most impressive and lucrative aspect of this is how it can drill down to specific towns and regions. This is going to open up a huge amount of revenue opportunities for them.