Is Google Search Plus Your World Really That Bad of An Idea?

by Jeannette Di Louie

Is Google Search Plus Your World Really That Bad of An Idea?

by Jeannette Di Louie, Investment U Research

Wednesday, January 18, 2011

“Google May Have Just Made the Worst Mistake in its History This Week,” a Business Insider headline speculated on Friday.

And Forbes echoed similar sentiments, firmly stating with one of its own that “Google CEO Larry Page Just Made His First Big Mistake.”

But perhaps the most shocking headline of all concerning the reigning search champ’s alleged error was Gizmodo’s, which read: “Google Just Made Bing the Best Search Engine.”

That forceful declaration demands two immediate responses: “Really?” and “How bad could it have been?”

Now don’t get me wrong – because I actually prefer Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) Bing over Google (Nasdaq: GOOG). But that doesn’t mean I have any illusions that Bing is anywhere close to being as powerful or as popular as Google.

Yet Bing did get a boost with Google’s announcement last week concerning its newest innovation. With Google Search Plus Your World (SPYW), the company managed to tick off prominent techies – like Gizmodo’s Mat Honan and Business Insider’s Matt Rosoff – enough to allegedly leave Google for good.

Google Search Plus Your World in a Nutshell

When it comes down to it, Google SPYW is really just an attempt at self-promotion.

Last year, Google launched a social media site called Google+ in an attempt to beat out Facebook. And since that’s no easy task, the search engine went a step further and came up with SPYW.

Search Plus automatically draws from information posted on Google+, generating query results based off of that data. So if John Smith logs into his Google account and then conducts a general internet search for one of his Plus buddies, he’s much more likely to get relevant results than otherwise.

This is “potentially groundbreaking” technology, as Wired Senior Writer Steven Levy points out. “If Google is able to leverage the knowledge it accumulates about you, it can deliver much better search results.”

On the downside, that capability doesn’t extend much further than Google+. John’s Facebook, for example, might as well not exist according to Google+.

The company says it’s looking into changing that, but it has some other kinks to work out, as Levy also points out:

“With SPYW, the search experience deeply becomes intertwined with Google’s social networking product. You see it in the search box, where the Google+ identity becomes the way to identify a person whose name is in a query. You see it in the search results, where Google+ content is overwhelmingly displayed compared to other social material from Google’s competitors. You see it in a ‘People and Pages’ list – suggestions for connections on Google+ –that appears in the same column as Google’s ads.”

In other words, SPYW is obnoxious in its self-promotion. Though, admittedly, anybody who doesn’t like the feature can simply turn it off and go back to a regular Google experience. And anybody who doesn’t have a Google account doesn’t have to worry about it at all.

So Did Google Mess Up or Not?

When everything is said and done, Google SPYW may very well have been far too bold a move to promote a still largely insignificant service. Then again, it might be the kick that Google+ needs.

At this point, it’s far too early to say one way or the other.

While Rosoff makes a good point in saying, “In tech…You lose when you make your customers angry,” and people don’t seem to be very happy with SPYW so far. But that’s mostly techies and not the main public.

Right now, a lot of assumptions are being made over a product that hasn’t really hit the market yet. And Google has the benefit of already having a loyal following that all but laugh at other search engine attempts.

Knowing that, don’t buy or sell into the hype. Just keep an eye (only one is necessary for the time being) on the situation and see what happens.

Good Investing,

Jeannette Di Louie

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