This Tech Announcement Was Worthless

Instant search results, presented as I type? This is what amounts to a reinvention of search? I'm not buying it, and neither should you.

Yesterday, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) unveiled Google Instant at a press event at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Press who were at the event say executives described the new approach as psychic, as if Google knows what you want before you do.

I've got three reactions to this.

First, ewwwwww. Creepy.

Second, while I understand the importance of speed, what I really want from Google is better results. I want it to see the patterns I'm seeing, and fetch data accordingly.

For example, if I sense that cloud computing is catching on in Asia and enter "cloud computing Asia" into Google, I want results organized by statistics, corporate happenings, research reports, and the like. Google should allow me to sharpen results and get closer to the answers I need. Today, that's work I do on my own.

In this sense, Google made a mistake by making Instant big news. Rather than excite users and investors, it has made clear just how far we have to go in making search better -- and in the process created an opportunity for Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) , AOL (NYSE: AOL  ) , Ask.com, and foreign rivals such as Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU  ) .

Third and finally, Google Instant's great strength is discoverability. Watching Google work in real time allows me to see not just a shifting mix of results, but also a wide variety of queries, some of which were better than the queries I've come up with on my own. And better questions should lead to better results.

Google Instant is neither a breakthrough nor a failure. It's a small step forward on a very long journey to make search more precise than it is today.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. Did Google Instant meet, exceed, or miss your expectations? Join the conversation in the comments box below.

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Baidu and Google are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. 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 Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Google 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 Microsoft and is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy hasn't had a cup of instant coffee in years.


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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2010, at 10:20 PM, uc22 wrote:

    I agree with you. I was not very excited about instant search. However, they do allow you to turn it off easily so no harm.

  • Report this Comment On September 10, 2010, at 11:13 PM, TMFRhino wrote:

    Really good article, Tim. Agreed completely.

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