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Google’s internet holy grail May 19, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Google.
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Google, the world’s most popular search engine, has begun the first major overhaul of its search function, taking the first steps towards what it is calling the universal search, an internet holy grail in which text, video, news, maps and local services will all be posted in a single coherent list.

The move is both a technological challenge, company executives said they had “melted down a data centre or two along the way”, and also a natural next step following a flurry of acquisitions of services spanning photographs (Picasa) and online video (YouTube).

Google gave a demonstration of the new concept at its Googleplex headquarters in Silicon Valley. On the website itself, the change was only modestly noticeable. A search for Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No 3 included a YouTube video of Evgeny Kissin performing the piece, but otherwise looked much as it might have done the day before.

“At first, universal search results may be subtle,” the company said. “Over time users will recognise additional types of content integrated into their search results as the company advances toward delivering a truly comprehensive search experience.” A search for the Star Wars character Darth Vader, for example, would previously have focussed on web-page mentions of the movie. Now, the company said, users can expect a set of “blended search results” including a parody of the movie, images of Darth, and news reports.

The more precise search returns are, the more they can interest advertisers who can tailor their messages to very specific audiences. “The thing everyone is wondering right now is, what will an advertiser be willing to pay for a video link,” said the analyst Martin Pykkonen, of Global Crown Capital. Last year Google had revenues of more than $10.6bn and a net profit of more than $3.5bn.

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