Judge Google Dismisses The Jury
Fellows and Associates' independent correspondent, Oliver Cox, discusses Google's market dominance and whether its competitors could be gaining momentum.
The veritable tech dreadnought, Google, in its role as a
search engine is part of a group of companies which lay a smooth and
traversable path for users to use information and services, rather than
providing them. This intangible business strategy, focussing on the access,
rather than a service, is potentially very lucrative. And like banks and
investment funds, seen somewhat as the financial industry equivalent, they are influential.
There are moments when Google, with its algorithmic tweaks, seems to have
stepped slightly aside from pure market thinking into meta-business, concerning
Search Engine Optimisation, the usefulness of the content and where sites
actually deserve to be ranked.
The State of Search
So, despite the fact that search engines
do not sell a service, they are massively important in that they affect what
material their users will access. This ability has become more public recently,
especially with the updates which Google has made to its search algorithm – the formula which a given search engine will use to determine where a site
will rank in the search results. It was by developing efficient algorithms that
sites like Baidu and Google achieved their dominance as web-portals, over the
listing sites which were created during the genesis of the web.
In recent changes, such as the last update of its Panda
algorithm, Google has attempted to move its formula away from rewarding the
search engine optimisation work which has been done on a site and
towards a system where more emphasis is placed on the actual material which is
presented. This was in response to the many businesses which deployed a
strategy in which they would source the search criteria which people were
using, then create large numbers of articles to channel the traffic to their
sites and advertising. SEO proponents claim that using search keywords in this
way is simply an expression of market demands.
At one point during the simpler times of the cosmic
inflation of the web, it may have been the case that Google just did the best
that it could to find relevant results. Now Google is cornered into taking the
role of a Judge, deciding whether sites are worthy, tapping the gavel to allow
them or not through the gates of the algorithm for inclusion in the
Google eclipsed Yahoo as the
chief web-portal after the .com bubble, being able to achieve its almost unique
level market dominance. The economist Milton Friedman stated that without state
assistance, no company can remain a monopoly for ever. The question being when, if it will do, will Google retreat to be replaced
by a white hot competitor, and who will the competitor be?
Duck Duck Go
The promise and potential clout
of this search engine is in robust juxtaposition with
its name. To an extent, this lightweight engine brands its self as being
'not Google' – by forgetting it's users' IP addresses and by giving each user
an identical page of results for a given search criterion, rather than tailoring
results as is the case with Google. Duck Duck Go offers a solid simplicity, for
people who don't require myriad features, and can attract 1.5m visitors per day.
This engine, the latest name in
the 'MSN Search – Windows Live Search – Live Search' genealogy, is a
present and growing challenge to the search status. This is so much the case
that Bing now powers the Yahoo search system. Bing is gaining market share in
the US, though it still holds only 4% of the world market. In the classic Microsoft style, the interface is aesthetic
This company, essentially the
Google of China, is steadily becoming a world challenger. The firm recently
made a deal with Apple to provide the search for Chinese iPhones. In addition,
Baidu has confirmed its interests in the Australian market, and is rumoured to
have designs on Latin America. This could suggest that the Chinese powerhouse
is seeking a bigger chunk of international business.
There are many plausible and ambitious competitors for the title of master of
search. However, companies – large ones – usually
lose their dominance for a reason; for IBM this
was, perhaps, the investment in expensive hardware and software, for Nokia, the
under investment in the new phone standard. One piece of information which
seems to act as a prophecy that Google will reign over search for a great
number of years to come is that 'the future of computing', smartphones
and tablets, use Google for 92% of their search needs. Therefore, until the necessary grade of paradigm shift,
Judge Google can dismiss the jury for deliberation.