A Cool Future for Search

Mark 2009 as the year that search finally became sexy again.

In the decade or so since Google launched its eponymous search engine and became the techno-cultural center of our online world, we’ve become almost blasé to regular tweaks to the service. Behind the scenes, Google engineers worked — and continue to work — to feverishly tweak the search engine’s algorithms, increase the number of Web resources it covers, reduce response time and improve relevance to near-telepathic levels.

In virtually all respects, they’ve succeeded. Few of us come away from a Google search without at least a partial answer to our original question. We expect it to work and, for the most part, it does — which means we trust it implicitly and use it almost by default.

The statistics bear that out. ComScore figures for April 2009 show 64 percent of United States searches used Google. Yahoo was a distant second at 20 percent, while Microsoft trailed with 8 percent. Trending analysis paints a similar story, as Google has been slowly growing its share over the years, while Yahoo and Microsoft continue to fade. Google, today’s standard of the search world, seems to be good enough for most of us.

But should it be good enough? Perhaps not. Despite the tremendous improvements in back-end capabilities, Google’s front end — and the front end of virtually every competing offering — has remained nearly the same since search engines first went mainstream. Whatever the brand, most search engines still…


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