Rich Skrenta, the guy who founded DMOZ and Topix, has written an interesting piece: How To Beat Google.
A lot of good points, although I do wonder about the level of resources and infrastructure required to compete with Google. That fast response time is really attractive.
What would make you change from Google to a, as yet, unknown start-up search company?
- I’d like the search engine find things for me, rather than me using it to find things.
- I want it to answer questions.
- I want it to present options, all relevant, yet all covering different angles and frames of reference.
- I’d like a search engine to provide links that solve problems.
All this is pie in the sky, although I think the last one might be do-able for a start-up, if you limit the scope.
For example, if my problem is to find the cheapest copy of a book, a search engine that shows me the cheapest option would be good. The shopping comparison sites kinda do this, and so does Amazon, but there’s still digging to be done (i.e. shipping costs, don’t ship to the country I’m in, etc). I just want a one click list – here’s the book, here’s the total price, click here on the search result, and it will be sent, we guarantee it. A “full service” engine that really does solve problems quickly. I’m not even sure I need to go to the providers web site, just interact with their data.
Matt Cutts weighs in:
“Rich, that was a fun post. I know I enjoy playing the thought experiment of “What’s the best way to compete with Company X?”. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on how to beat other companies in the search/internet industry, or even other companies in general. It could make for an interesting series of posts“.
Rich makes a good point about the value of small teams. I recall Lotus did this with Notes, and held bigger providers, like Microsoft, at bay for years. Lotus had a small dev team, reasoning that a few excellent people are more effective than a thousand average people. The more people, the more management overhead, which invariably leads to a loss of focus.
Google could be knocked from their perch. It would be interesting to see some competition in the search space, as Yahoo and MSN don’t appear to want the job.