Google released Instant Search earlier this week. It’s a pretty spiffy piece of technology, if you’re logged into your Google account and go to the Google search page, and start typing in a search, the screen will shift to show you results in an almost real time manner. Over the last few days, you hear a lot of tech pundits talking about how Google wasted it’s time, because no one uses the Google search page anymore, they use the search bar in their browser. So Google has spent time on a problem that doesn’t really exist.
I disagree. What I saw in Google’s new Instant Search is innovation in the search game. While Bing (the only real competitor to Google since it also power’s Yahoo’s search engine) is still trying to catch up on cracking Google’s previous search algorithm and accuracy, Google brought out the next generation of search. In other words, Google pretty much owns the search market, but they didn’t rest on their laurels (Internet Explorer anyone?). Instead Google worked to create something that will now be an expectation of all things search within the next year or so.
The amount of infrastructure, architecture, database design, database programming, and so forth used to create Google Instant Search is a tremendous amount of smarts. This is innovation is a computer science way rather than innovation in “lets solve a customer problem way” and while some would argue its the wrong focus, I’d argue that there is a place for both kinds of innovation in the tech world. Things like the backend for Instant Search are important moves forward in solving the data problems of tomorrow. We’re all sitting on large amounts of data, Facebook, Google, Twitter. There are endless amounts of data there, and sense needs to be made of that data.
So before we start saying that Google isn’t solving a real problem, we need to think a little deeper than just a customer facing level.