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Context : OnGoogle

Quora Answer : Just like Larry Page and Sergey Brin unseated their incumbents with a better search engine, how likely is it that two Computer Science PhD students create a search engine that unseats Google? How vulnerable is Google to this possibility?

Mar 30, 2017

You wouldn't, in 2017, compete with Google on a search engine for "web-pages"?

Who the hell is interested in "web-pages"?

The "search engine" that competes with Google in 2017 will be a very different animal. Something that searches / organizes a large body of currently obscure data that we suddenly discover we care about intensely.

Or something that solves some minor corner of search that people really, really want.

The most obvious examples are :

  • searching / filtering social networks / chats etc. So "what are people saying about X?" type questions. "Do more people think Y or Z?" type questions etc. There are serious privacy issues here. The biggest consumer for this data is the NSA. And even they know they shouldn't have it. Probably only Facebook is in a position to do it. Or maybe some bot maker who persuades everyone to install the bot in all their chat apps.
  • live search / filtering / "routing queries" of new information. "Alert me when X happens." (where X is a complex event). "What's the biggest story from Australia this morning?"
  • search of people. (Another privacy minefield). "Who knows about Fridgits and might be likely to be willing to have lunch with me on Thursday?"
  • search of local resources and facilities. Search of local shops is terrible, even in 2017. "Which chemist is open now, within 10 minutes drive and has X in stock?" Lots of people set themselves up to provide this service. And all fail on not being able to keep comprehensive up-to-date data.

However, all these problems are hard.

If you want to compete with Google the company then the real thing you need to compete with is their advertising market. Make advertising irrelevant. Or find new ways to route around it.

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