The title is a quote from none other than Bill Gates. For having used Google too much and for not having been disappointed too often, you might be thinking that the business of search is a quasi-monopoly and that the winner has been declared. But you couldn't be farther from the truth. For the fight is at its paroxysm and the months to come will be determining. One could draw a timeline of search engines' recent battles :
- A fight for accuracy: An algorithmic fight Google won using crowd wisdom, links pointing to a given page and semantic precision
- A fight for speed: Search engines have been trying to be the fastest in every field (from video to images, to web pages) and again Google has proved its superiority with Google instant lately
- A fight for relevance: This round has been involving a social dimension and ... Bing is the winner here thanks to its collaboration with Facebook
- A fight for prediction: And this one's winner is yet to be determined. And this one's winner is the one "that takes it all"
Prediction doesn't mean your search engine will suggest pages even before you type anything (though this might be the fifth round, where every single personal information you've provided would be taken into consideration) but rather that when you do type in something, instead of suggesting a series of blue links, the search engine will take you directly to the page you 'want'.
That's when the quote that serves as a title takes all its meaning and where Esther Dyson's August 2010 article about the subject comes in handy :
" when people search, they aren't just looking for nouns or information; they are looking for action. They want to book a flight, reserve a table, buy a product, cure a hangover, take a class, fix a leak, resolve an argument, or occasionally find a person, for which Facebook is very handy. They mostly want to find something in order to do something."
It's true ! When I search for "cheapest flights", I want my search engine to take me to the page where I book flights more often or to one that corresponds to my tastes and habits. Search engines have that kind of context : They've tracing our every click ! Hence it is time to take it to the next level, that's the least that can be done, in exchange for all that data exhaust information.
So back to you very dear readers, how do you see it : How do you see the future of search ? What does Google 2020 look like in your imagination ? And most of all, how would you like it to look like ?