Despite growing competition from Bing, specialised search engines like Wolfram Alpha and now from Apple's voice assistant Siri, Google remains the dominant player in the search space, servicing 100 billion queries per month. And this is a dominance that they will fight to retain, because it is the basis of their bread and butter business of ad serving.
In the last few months, Google has announced several important decisions that will affect the future of search. In fact, these decisions will revolutionise and completely transform the search function as we know it today. Here's the low down;
1) Giving direct answers to mobile search
When we use our mobiles to search, we expect to speedily find information rather than have to browse many pages for it. BGR reports that Google will start giving answers to questions in mobile search rather than providing a list of links - for example, queries about weather, traffic or flight timings can be met with direct answers, given that location specific information is collected from mobile devices.
2) Voice based search
Inspired by Siri, yet distinct, Google's voice based Google Now search is already available on Jellybean and will soon be released as an iOS app too.
As I noted in my post on the Bright Angles website, voice recognition technology on smartphones is the most practical and exciting application of artificial intelligence that I have ever seen. Siri dazzled us with the possibilities and now Google is following suit.
Voice based search will revolutionise the way we use search on our phones. It will enable us to query in real time, get answers that are based on the context of our questions rather than a direct response to the words we use. It will also force the experts to perfect the technology of voice recognition which is still rudimentary and basic - even Siri despite her brilliance, cannot understand my Indian-accented English.
3) Knowledge Graph
Over the years, Google has collected, analysed and understood what is the information that people consider useful. Knowledge graph is Google's attempt to collate and deliver such information as part of search results. Initially this will be experimental, later it could become a dominant part of the search experience. This is a huge shift for Google and hits at the heart of its traditional business model. By delivering instant answers on the search page/ landing page, Google is taking a risk that you will not visit websites, generate more page views through browsing and generate ad revenue. Still, Google has taken the wise gamble that it is better to shift in the direction shown by Apple/ Siri rather than get left behind. And Google has a huge edge over Apple in the search game because they have access to our information across a variety of products including video, mail, search etc.
In the future, search will be oriented towards being more mobile friendly, time saving and intuitive. It will be more like asking a friend or an expert, rather than querying a search engine. It will make our lives easier and become a more indispensable part of our activities than ever before.