Microsoft Bing chief Stefan Weitz made a pretty significant pronouncement in an interview with The Huffington Post on Wednesday: search as we know it is dead. That’s quite the statement.
In simplest terms, the old fashioned way of search results being nothing much more than a list of returned links just isn’t cutting it — a business model that’s made Google a ton of money.
Lets be fair, though: Bing isn’t that much better. In both cases the two search engines have focused their efforts on “the social,” hoping that is the answer. Google’s social search solution is +1, which gives greater weight to returned results that people in a user’s social circle may have liked. Microsoft is doing something similar, but in that case their using content culled from a friend’s Facebook stream.
Which method is better? It remains to be seen. The concept of social search — at least if done right — is still very much in its infancy. We really don’t know what works yet. While our Facebook streams of consciousness might be useful to figure out our likes and dislikes, will it be relevant to our friends in any searches they may perform?
In the end, what we’re really looking for is a search engine that can anticipate what we’re looking for — making those hours of trolling Google for that perfect result a thing of the past. The question appears to be now is whether social search is a step in that direction.