According to blogger TechCrunch, The Big G last week bid $50 million for Aardvark, a search engine that allows users to ask questions of, and get answers from, friends they're connected to on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.
This is a brilliant buy for Google, in that it fills gaps as it challenges competitors. For all the talk of Microsoft's
Google has been talking about social search for more than a year now, and I've advised Microsoft to offer such a service as well.
Here's how Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of search products and user experience, described the idea in an August 2008 interview with VentureWire:
In essence, it's a fusion of personalized and social search. In this case, what we would do is say: This Gmail account which maps to Marissa Mayer then maps to these other friends, allow those friends to influence this ranking ... But no, we have not done anything like that to date.
Aardvark doesn't fulfill this vision perfectly, but it gets close. In each case, friends are called upon to offer intelligence. Mayer's idea just happens to be more algorithmic.
Imagine a button in Buzz that says, "Ask a question." Users could then decide to ask their network or the entire universe of Buzz participants -- or at least, those who've allowed for questions in their privacy settings. Every answer would make Buzz more valuable and Google more intelligent.
So far, Microsoft, Yahoo!
But that's my take. Now it's your turn to weigh in. Does getting Aardvark give Google a competitive advantage over rivals? Or is it an incremental buy that matters little in the broader battle for search supremacy? Make your voice heard using the comments box below.
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Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the 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. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy moisturizes to prevent itself from getting scaly.