I think it’s important to understand the world of Internet search as defined by Google. In The Elephant in the Room on his blog, Coding Horror, Jeff Atwood lays it out clearly.
Yes, I like Google. Yes, Google works great and has been my homepage for about eight years now. Google nailed search, and they deserve the leadership position they’ve earned. But where’s the healthy competition? Where’s the incentive for Google to improve? All I see is a large and growing monoculture that acts as the start page for the Internet.
I’m a little surprised all the people who were so up in arms about the Microsoft “monopoly” ten years ago aren’t out in the streets today lighting torches and sharpening their pitchforks to go after Google. Does the fact that Google’s products are mostly free and ad-supported somehow exempt it from the same scrutiny? Isn’t anyone else concerned that Google, even with the best of “don’t be evil” intentions, has become more master than servant?
Calling the current state of search engine competition a horse race is an insult to horse races. No, what we have here is a one horse race where all the other horses were shipped off to glue factories years ago. Forget “search conference”, you should be throwing a “Google conference”, because there’s no difference.
By the way, if you’re involved in actual software development, Jeff’s Coding Horror is a great read. Well written, knowledgeable, and, often, fun.