November 10, 2006 |
Yesterday was the last day of the Web 2.0 Summit, held in San Fransisco, CA. Everything from the Digg phenomenon to predictions on the next big thing have been tossed about on stage between web moguls and Silicon Valley’s budding stars over the past 72 hours. Even some unknowns got some attention.
One discussion caught my eye rather quickly: A talk that included Ask CEO Jim Lanzone and Microsoft’s search master, Steve Berkowitz.
In whatever fashion the jargon was scrambled in the talk, there was the already-well-versed admission that Google was king, but they didn’t consider that a pressing concern – at least from what I could intuit from selected excerpts from the discussion.
I didn’t find that surprising, but what I found comforting was their intent to further enhance search to a preference that’s continually adapting and changing, without the user having to go through the trouble of checking boxes. All that garbage is standard issue with any personalized services available today, and if they’re ever to garner the biggest numbers, those walls must come down. We want this stuff to just work the way we want it to work, right?
Well, that’s what Lanzone and Berkowitz stipulated to be their main objective in the coming years (in their own words). Whether they end up seriously contending with Google for market share is fairly irrelevant. Their target is to truly enhance what they’ve already built up in a meaningful way, and enough to assert the “better product” line, mean it, and make the public believe it.
Ask.com is a distant fourth or fifth in the search world, but if you give it try, you might just be surprised with the nifty features they’ve rolled out. You can’t blame them for pointing out the buddy system Google and the press seem to have arranged amongst themselves. Ask offers less overall, but that does allow them to put all of their eggs in one basket, affording them great reviews – when they get reviewed. The press usually does follow the biggest story, but they don’t always follow the best, do they?
The question can be an easy one. The answer can also be incredibly complex. What we do know is that with rapid changes to the Web’s tools occurring on what seems to be a daily basis, it isn’t easy to pin anything down for long.
We do have some certainties to rely on, one of which is the underdog. Ask.com plays that part, and pretty well for its age and stature. It might not get front-paged very often, and it probably will never waive the a foam finger with #1 plastered to its HQ, but impressive things are in their pipeline. The same goes for Microsoft. There’ll be months of new releases before the next Web 2.0 Summit, and they’ll be more integral to our lives than ever before. Whether the minority of quality stands stronger then than it did these past few days, that’s for fate and a sprinkling of luck to decide.
What happens now? Your guess is as good as mine.