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Monday, September 8, 2008

Will this become a classic quote?

12:44:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
Google’s Marissa Mayer says in an interview in Los Angeles Times that search is “90 to 95%” solved:

I think there will be a continued focus on innovation, particularly in search. Search is an unsolved problem. We have a good 90 to 95% of the solution, but there is a lot to go in the remaining 10%. How do we monetize new forms of content as they come online such as video, maps and books. How do we help content providers transition their businesses online and build healthy businesses.

To say that search is 90-95% solved makes me wonder about how Google defines the problem of search. It seems as the problem Marissa Mayer and Google is trying to solve is how to index all kinds of content to make it searchable in the same way as textual content is today. Or maybe the problem is how to monetize on all kinds of searches, which is really an internal problem at Google?

I personally believe that the problem that search (or something else) needs solve is that people do not find the information and experiences they are looking for. Search has a loooong way to go before it will be able to do that. One part of the problem of search is that a search engine needs to be able to understand the semantics of a user's query and deliver results that semantically match the query. Another part is how to compensate for our inability to express in words what we are thinking. There is often a gap between the mind and the word, between the true need and the expressed need.

I think search might have solved a good 1-2% of this problem. If Google really thinks they have solved 90-95% of the problem of search, it is a clear sign that we will see some new actor(s) innovating search quite soon.

As a collegue of mine said "Search is solved when my need for information is immediately satisfied as I become aware of my need." So when I do not have to express my need and try to tell a search engine about it, search is solved. Search becomes obsolete.

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