Thursday, September 9, 2010

Off Topic? Heck No. Google's Business Innovation - Google Instant

Ladies and gentlemen. Let me talk about Google Instant for a bit. It may seem off-topic, like discussing chicken pot pie recipe while serving coffee and blueberry pie (don't ask me how I came up with the analogy), but stay with me for a few minutes. I promise you'll get my controversial fourtune cookie line of the day.

Google announced yesterday their instant search capability, and turned on its switch on sites around the world: Google Instant. It's about Google suggesting the best search phrase as you enter search keywords and returning search results to you by the most likely suggestion in an instant. Outcome is disorienting flash of results passing through your browser screen as you type your keywords.

Ok. This is auto-complete on the surface. But if you stop there, you are missing the real Google's intent. It pains me to read articles that reduce Google Instant to yet another auto-complete feature. What they are after is much bigger than saving a few keystrokes from your overworked fingers. It's not even show-off of their massively clustered computing power, although it's quite impressive. What Google has done with Google Instant is to expand their search market and to fend off growing threats from Facebook. And Google has done this through jujitsu technique picked up from watching Facebook.

Let me explain. Google has been under pressure to expand its market share. They have been well aware that it will be difficult to keep up the double-digit growth rate in current search market. That's when they decided to invest heavily on mobile with huge Android push and Google phone. Smart move. With acquisition of AdMob the mobile ad serving company, things seemed as though going according to the plan. Then they looked into due west, and saw Facebook. As discussed earlier, Facebook has been delivering contents right to user's Facebook home page, and Google saw this as problem. As more and more users became fixated on Facebook page, Google found itself competing for user's attention.

Then Google thought about this delivery of content. Can we bring this active delivery of contents to search? Google's answer was yes, and their proof is Google Instant. Instead of waiting for typing of keywords to finish, Google is now serving you contents, the contents that Google knows the best to serve. Google is waiting for you to walk in to, and the moment you open your mouth, they are pushing contents out to you. They are actively suggesting what you might have come to Google to look for.

Not only does this increase Google's ad serving capability, but also Google gets to recommend things based on trends. Oh wait, who says these trends cannot be set by one with biggest purse, or your friends that you connect with on Google Buzz or gmail? Google has learned Facebook's trick, and applied to what it does best: search. Brilliant idea!

My fortune cookie predicts that Google and Facebook competition will grow in next 6 to 9 month. I can see Google working on rehabilitating their Buzz on social media (pun intended), and try taking on Facebook on their own turf. But that will require more delicate jujitsu techniques as Facebook now holds a patent on social search. But I promise you it will be all the more interesting fight to watch.

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