Monday, January 5, 2009

Marissa Mayer blog post- Google's VP search and UI (click here)

As Google is the de facto user interface to content published on the internet, understanding the thinking behind where they think innovation in Search is required is important. Following are my key takeaways from her post:

1. The latest generation of smart phones, encumbered by network speed and coverage, only scratches the surface of user demand for fast data access when you want it.

2. Natural language (always one of Bill Gates' key interest areas) input, with voice and image awareness, has the potential to advance the search paradigm from today's limitation on 'key word' selection as your search kick-off.

3. Search results ought to be 'universal'. Meaning an inclusion and prioritization of images, video, maps, etc. would greatly enhance the user experience. Here's a link to the Google blog post from May 07, that describes what they are up to in this area.

4. Dealing with ambiguity of search terms, and personalization of results, are important. Recognizing that one person's Jaguar is a football team, and another is an automobile, highlights that the more a search engine knows about your preferences, and even location (hello privacy concerns), the better your search result will be.

5. In a nod to the 'implicit web' where non-obvious relationships are harnessed to gather information, mining relationships to assist in getting the right content can be a great booster. I suspect that doing this in a non-obtrusive manner will be a huge challenge/opportunity.

6. Recognizing that today's internet users speak a myriad of languages, and more importantly, generate content in these languages, having reliable cross-language information access will greatly improve access to the 'best' content.

For some time, my personal experience with internet commerce and looking for specific content has led me to an interest in vertical search. For example, a lifetime of entering key words into Google, to buy a handmade birthday present for my wife, will never give me the same experience that Etsy provides. Likewise, iMedix provides a great amalgamation of medical related information that's optimized for the health arena.

You would not necessarily think of either of these companies being in the search business, though their concentration on specific markets enables them to harness search, in a specific way, that obviates my temptation to use Google in these arenas. As markets get larger, they tend to create sub-markets that, with maturity become markets in their own right. Coupled with the Ms Meyer's thoughts, this should represent many entrepreneurial and venture opportunities.

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