The New York Times, Sunday Edition, has a story "The Human Touch That May Loosen Google's Grip". The NYT writer sets up the notion that Google can be toppled by using a quote from my earlier post "Why 1% of search market share is worth over $1 Billion"
Even gathering the crumbs of business left behind by Google could generate a lofty market capitalization. Don Dodge, a Microsoft manager who works outside of the company’s search group, made this argument in a post on his personal blog last month: “Why 1% of Search Market Share Is Worth Over $1 Billion.” Mr. Dodge reasoned that 1 percent of the 7.3 billion searches performed in the United States in March, multiplied by 12 cents in advertising revenue per search, would yield annualized revenue of $105 million. Assuming a market cap that is 10 times revenue, his arithmetic leads to a billion-dollar company.
The story mentions Hakia and Powerset using Natural Language Processing to produce better results. The human touch is represented by Mahalo, a new search engine that uses humans to prepare search results for common queries.
Engines like Hakia, Accoona and Powerset are trying to grab market share by writing a more sophisticated algorithm. A growing number of entrepreneurs are placing their bets, however, on a hybrid system that puts humans back into the search equation. They are grouped under a newly coined rubric, “social search,” and it is becoming a crowded field.
Newcomers like Squidoo, Sproose and NosyJoe offer search results based on submissions or votes by users. Bessed also relies on users to suggest the best Web pages for a topic, but then has editors refine them. ChaCha gives customers the opportunity to have an online chat with a human being who can provide search assistance.
Mahalo now has pre-prepared pages for 5,000 terms related to entertainment, travel, health, technology and other subject areas. The company plans to expand its coverage to 10,000 terms by year-end, and eventually to provide results for one-third of the most common search terms.
There are hundreds of alternative search engines out there and more coming on everyday trying every imaginable approach to delivering better search. Charles Knight maintains and constantly updates a list of the top 100 alternative search engines. Here is a review of those companies and their approaches. Read these links for more in depth reviews of alternative search engines and new approaches to search.