Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Fortune on the search war

Fred Vogelstein at Fortune wrote a great article on MSN and the search war with Yahoo and Google. The full article is subscription only, but here are some selected excerpts.

Microsoft has been having difficulties in the search war:
    Every month it seems as if Google hires away one of Microsoft's top developers ... As of March, roughly 100 Microsofties had left for its search nemesis ... The Google migration has gotten so bad, says a former Microsoft employee, that when he told his bosses and colleagues he was leaving earlier this year, "the first question out of their mouths was 'You're not going to Google, are you?'"

    Trying to build a Google killer ... has turned out to be truly humbling for Microsoft. The effort has taken longer, cost more money, and exposed more big-company problems at Microsoft than anyone imagined.
Google is fleet of foot, but it cannot afford to stumble:
    One reason Google has been rolling out so many new or improved products is that [Google CEO Eric] Schmidt understands that innovation is the only sure edge Google has. The moment Google allows itself to slow, Microsoft could overwhelm it.
What will see in the future from the search giants?
    "We need to take search way beyond how people think of it today and just have it be naturally available, based on the task they want to do," [said Bill Gates]. For example, if you wanted to look up a factoid while you were writing a document, you might search for it without ever leaving Word.

    All three big search engines are scrambling to find ways to make search more personalized. The thinking is that the more a search engine knows about who is searching, the more accurate the results will be.
[Full disclosure: Fred talked with me when he was doing research for this article.]

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