Is This the End of the Search Engine?

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If you've been to Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) main search page, you'll notice the logo is now comprised of a collection of similarly colored balls that disperse as you mouse over them. Conjecture at The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere has it that the logo is representative of search changes at a press event tomorrow.

If so, it wouldn't be too surprising. Earlier this year, Wired's Steven Levy got an inside look at how the Google search team fine-tunes its algorithm for accuracy and comprehensiveness. Reading it, you get the sense that Google understands there's much to be done to make search as universally useful as it could be.

We've also seen this theme play out on the Web. Google has begun personalizing some search results while delivering others in real-time in an effort to combat the effects of Twitter and Facebook. Timeline tools also help to sharpen results, and every click makes the engine smarter.

What does any of this have to do with the colored balls flying around Google's home page today? Potentially nothing. Or they could represent how modules of information connect to each other to create meaning. Google could be saying it's found a way detect patterns in results.

The Big G doesn't do this today, nor do any of its competitors. Pattern recognition has instead been the domain of business intelligence software from SAP (NYSE: SAP  ) , IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) , SAS Institute, and MicroStrategy (Nasdaq: MSTR  ) , among others. They've made their money helping build big data infrastructures to supply internal analysis specialists.

But does it have to be this way? Can't consumers profit as much from patterns as businesses? Certainly Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) thinks so; else it wouldn't have pitched Bing as a "decision engine" at launch.

Meanwhile, smaller BI software suppliers such as Actuate (Nasdaq: ACTU  ) and QlikTech (Nasdaq: QLIK  ) are trying to put analytical tools into the hands of everyday workers. Both have had success.

Could Google change the game still further? We'll know more with tomorrow's press event, but I wouldn't bet against The Big G.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. Do you think Google will get better at pattern recognition? Let the debate begin in the comments box below.

Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Google and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Motley Fool Options has recommended subscribers open a diagonal call position in Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Google and IBM at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy has been asking management for its own logo for years. What gives?

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