Search Wars

February 2, 2011 § 1 Comment

If you have been following the tech blogs the last couple of days, the search PR wars must have caught your eye. Google accused Bing of copying its results and the veritable follow up from Bing made for interesting reading. Before I delve any further, here is the original article that lays our Google’s accusation, the search conference where there was public airing of the complaint, Google’s  blog post on the topic and Bing’s follow up.

Google is the undisputed leader in search and Bing has been a steady underdog trying to usurp the title from Google. After trying to go at it alone and failing, Microsoft entered into a strategic alliance with Yahoo where the two companies put together a synergistic approach to their search offering a meaningful competitor to Google. While it hasn’t shown dramatic results, month to month search statistics show that Bing is very slowly chipping at Google’s over sized share of the pie. Bing has also tried to use Microsoft’s investment and cozy relationship with Facebook to make things interesting (read difficult for Google).

In the meantime, the last few months has seen some prominent web journalists and bloggers claiming that Google was turning up with a lot of spam results. In a tacit affirmation of the problem, Google started making moves to reduce spam and search engine manipulation before it took a larger toll on the brand.

In this rare case of Microsoft being the underdog the corporate behemoth is milking that moniker for all its worth. Google on the other hand has bigger worries in the form of trying to assert that its search results are still relevant amidst the deluge of sophisticated spam sites purportedly from the likes of recent IPO darling, Demand Media properties.

The accusation was a rare public outburst from Google that prides on keeping itself above such trivialities. But if the accusation that Bing uses some of Google’s sophisticated algorithms for outlier searches and spelling errors is true, the future of search wars is going to get very ugly and very competitive.

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Google’s Redesign

May 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

As many of you would have noticed by now, Google had a significant makeover yesterday. From trivial elements like removing shadowing effects on the logo to larger changes like a left frame in the search results page, there are a quite a few differences of note. As someone interested in design paradigms for business, I was definitely curious to know the real reasons behind these changes.

The official list of changes and rationale is provided by Marissa Mayer, VP at Google for Search and User Experience here.

BusinessWeek has a brief video interview of a bunch of people who were involved in the design process here. In this interview, one of the Google UI Designers claims that this change is a platform for future features which is a very interesting.

There is also some internet chatter about how Bing could have influenced the left frame creation in the search results. I am not sure how true this is but is definitely worth reading the arguments  here and here. If it were to be true, no harm done as the key to innovative and good products is competition. If Bing could have inspired a Google search result design change, that is great for the use.

Here is a non-Google view of why this redesign happened.

Finally, if you are really interested in design paradigms for a search interface, here is a wonderful article from a blog I have come to admire very much. It is a lengthy read but very cool.

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