People who are looking for the source of death in Google search are asking wrong questions

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Photo: warmworld / Adobe Stock

‘It’s a season of deliberate thinking about overtaking Google’s search business, I guess, as several sources popped up last week asking,’ Why isn’t there a Google competitor? ‘ The answer, of course, is that there is Is An effective competitor to Google. As I wrote, DuckDuckGo has been booming late, though its “booming” hasn’t translated into “bust” for Google. Away from it. By any measure (like StatCounter), Google dominates search on the Internet.

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Yet people feel compelled to ask, “If Google is bad, why is everyone using it?” The answer, dear reader, has an impact beyond Google or search and has everything to do with convenience.

If it doesn’t break …

With some accounts, the quality of Google search has deteriorated somewhat. Don’t assume that “quality” will always be somewhat thematic. In the article linked above, Daniel Gross tried to analyze how users are now apparently adding search modifiers to make Google search results more relevant. (For example, I occasionally add a “-” modifier to tell Google that I don’t want results from Banbury Cross, the famous place in a nursery rhyme, and instead just want results from Banbury Cross, the best donut shop in Utah.)

Gross and others think that changing Google’s search for different sites, such as Reddit, gives users clues to more specific searches that help them answer more complex, “long tail” questions. “Something is broken, and a small portion of Google is open to acquisition,” he wrote. A “small portion” of Google must be worth a lot of money, as DuckDuckGo discovered But that still doesn’t indicate a big problem in small searches.

Similarly, other commenters suggest that “people are asking really important questions on their Facebook and WhatsApp groups, Twitter, Discord and Slack communities, etc.” But then they solve their question (“If Google is bad, why is everyone still using it?”) Indicating that Google provides most of the search queries: This is because it makes up for a small percentage of the total queries and most users make a habit of searching based on the main query, which Google is very good at. “

For those modifiers (such as searching for a specific site), some note that “90% of my searches for ‘WTF’ mean this stacktrace?” Last in stackoverflow, I always The beginning My search on Google is because every moment it gives me useful non-stackoverflow tidbit and I know I can always drill more with specific tags in stackoverflow. ” Better than

All of which make it seem like people are looking for answers to a question that has been answered year after year: Why do people use Google (or any other product)? Because it’s good enough (and convenient). Ah, the advantage. Redmond’s James Governor once declared that “the advantage is the killer app.” He was right then. She is there now.

… Then don’t fix it

If your question is “If product / service X is bad then why does everyone use it?”, It is logically a bad question. The question should really be “Why does everyone use X?” There are all sorts of reasons why you might not want to, but there is no better answer than wish fulfillment.

Take open source, for example.

I have been working in open source since 2000, when I joined an open source software startup, Line. Entering open source was not a conscious decision of mine (it was a neutral summer internship that lasted 22 years), but it stayed. In the meantime, it seems clear to me that consumers will want to choose between Microsoft, Oracle and open source options. [insert name of big proprietary incumbent]. Microsoft Office? Yes, I am angry with that machine. Similarly Windows, Oracle Database, etc.

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And yet, after billions of dollars, people still happily use Office, still run Windows, still use Oracle, etc. and finally succeed). Why? Because it was Inconvenient Move.

That is why profound, art-wide change sometimes begins with small choices made by individual developers. These changes may not last for decades after taking office, for example, but they can create new patterns of convenience. (I and others like to use cloud-based Google Docs, for example, as my Office Productivity Suite.) Similarly, Microsoft still prints billions from its Windows server business, but the developer needs Linux to offer it on its Azure Cloud service. Requested. . Will this spell the demise of Windows that I once thought was imminent? Probably not, because it would be convenient for many organizations to run Windows, probably for decades.

Which, of course, made the video an overnight sensation. Those who want to overtake Google must fail. The market rarely wins through face-to-face clashes between opposing forces. The advantage is militancy against such clashes. But will the new pattern of convenience emerge that will shift search power to different platforms, perhaps in a way that doesn’t sound like “search”? Probably.

Put through an enterprise software lens, years ago I could have saved myself some religious annoyance from the perseverance of legacy technology instead of noticing new patterns of developing benefits. Such patterns clearly showed the developer’s desire for more autonomy, which led to open source and cloud. In the process, a process that has taken decades, they have dramatically changed how we buy software and from whom. A few more decades like this here.

Disclosure: I work for MongoDB but the opinions expressed here are mine.

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