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This article was published on February 13, 2010

Google, thy days are numbered.

Google, thy days are numbered.
Charles Knight
Story by

Charles Knight

Charles Knight is the editor of The Next Web Search. Charles Knight is the editor of The Next Web Search.

aGoogle, thy days are numbered. Boy it feels weird to say that, but I just want to get out in front of the biggest news in the history of Search. After all, I’ve spent the last three years and over 4,000 posts about every alternative (to Google) search engine in the world looking for the Next Big Thing. From that unique vantage point, I concluded with many prominent bloggers that it is the Vertical Search Engines (VSE) that pose the greatest threat to Google’s dominance in Search.

Well, I was half right.

It wasn’t until I saw Robert Scoble’s interview with the Virtual Personal Assistant (VPA) Siri that the pieces all fell together with a thunderous “CLICK”. 2000-2009 will now be known as Web 2.0 or the Google Decade. 2010 will be remembered as the year that ushered in Web 3.0, the rise of the VPAs (sounds like a movie), and the beginning of the decline and fall of the Google Empire.

By now you may be wondering if I am just using hyperbole to grab some tweets, either that or I forgot to take my meds this morning. Not at all, I am in fact joining with the following bloggers in declaring a (wait for it) paradigm shift in Search.

“A new iPhone app is trying to take the fiction out of Science Fiction. Movies have long portrayed people in the future speaking commands to computers. Siri, based on $200M of research and development, is trying to make it so.” -Adam DuVande

“For decades, many have dreamed of having a virtual assistant to answer our questions and do our bidding. Through advances in artificial intelligence, speech recognition and a seemingly endless array of search engines and directories, we are getting ever closer to this fantasy becoming a reality.” -Louis Gray

(Siri is the) “mother of all mashups.” -TechCrunch

(Siri is) “the future of the Web.” -Robert Scoble

If you want to document your own prediction, yea or nay, leave a comment.

So what’s the big deal about a free iPhone app that looks up movie times and restaurant reservations? Well nothing, if you think that’s all it is. You have to buy into the notion that Siri will evolve in three very important ways.

1) It will grow “smarter” because its human developers will continue to incorporate more and more Vertical Search Engines into its repertoire until Siri knows all of the VSE that I have “boasted and posted” about for the last three years.

2) It will learn more and more about you (personalization). This is not new, studying someone’s web history provides a wealth of clues about the person that did the searching. Mix in GPS location data, self maintained profiles and social sites, and Siri (or other VPAs) will get to know your preferences while keeping that information private – just like a discreet secretary or butler – just like that.

3) It will learn how to learn. The human developers will teach the VPAs how to go out and add new websites to their little computer brains by themselves. It will learn about you the more that you work with it (see #2 above).

So what does this have to do with Google?

Last night a friend of mine tried Siri out. He asked Siri to do something that it could not – yet. So Siri went to a web search engine (like Google) and showed him that. Now why would he log off Siri and go to Google if Siri had just done it for him? That’s why you will eventually stop searching and just let your VPA do it.

So Google still gets searched, right? Well, not exactly. How many ads do you think a VPA will click on when it goes to Google? About zero. What is Google’s chief source of revenue?

Once you get to know your VPA you will look back and wonder what the big deal was about Google anyway because Google doesn’t DO anything. It just gets you information and then makes you jump around various sites and spend your time acting upon all of that information.

Forget that! VPAs will DO it for you, and that includes searching. That’s why Siri is not calling itself a search engine, but a DO engine.


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