Google’s Page Previews Are What’s Great About the Search Wars

By  |  Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 10:06 am

Boy, am I glad the ridiculousness of smartphone patent wars hasn’t carried over to web search, because Google’s testing of full page previews illustrates everything that’s great about stealing another company’s ideas.

Some Google users are spotting full page previews today, according to Patrick Altoft at Blogstorm. This allows users to see important content from a website without clicking through to the link. Chunks of text containing search keywords are broken into orange boxes, and the entire page layout is visible from within Google search.

Clearly, Google ripped this feature from Bing, where page previews have been part of search since day one. So what? Bing does it differently, with simple, unobtrusive preview boxes that only draw out a few lines of text and other important details. Sometimes the imitation is better than the original, and sometimes it’s worse, but Google’s and Bing’s desire to differentiate themselves is always reflected in the product.

Page previews aren’t the only example. In June, Google added infinite scrolling to image search, and also improved over Bing with a clean redesign of how images are displayed. Google also added background images on the homepage, and amidst a backlash, had to explain that this was an optional feature, with images temporarily appearing on everyone’s home pages for promotional purposes.

Bing isn’t so innocent either. After Google added streaming music to its search results, Bing did the same, and also included song lyrics and tour information as part of a full-blown Bing Entertainment hub.

The smartphone market is jammed with ongoing lawsuits, among them Microsoft’s recent patent infringement claim against Motorola. But I don’t think anyone would argue that you can’t tell an Android phone from a Windows phone from an iPhone. Likewise, Google and Bing may lift features from one another, but each service still looks pretty distinct to me. More importantly, we’re getting new and better features as each company tries to one-up the other. That’s not really stealing or copying; that’s progress.


Read more: , ,

6 Comments For This Post

  1. Fella Says:

    Thats what I call reporting liberty.. If Microsoft has done the same, i would have been flooded with news how Microsoft never innovate and is a 'follower' and all like that.. When Google/Apple does that its all together a different story, right? Isn't Google a follower here? for as we all know the page previews are one of the identifying feature of Bing since day one. Google always touted for their simplistic interface and with just a small push they are already showing desparation not just by copying by buying companies in and out (read ITA and other 22 this year)..

  2. mmzymxf Says:

    Where is Bing's page preview?

  3. JaredNewman Says:

    When you hover over a search result, a little arrow appears next to it. Hover over the arrow, and you'll get the page preview in Bing.

  4. mmzymxf Says:

    Is that page preview?

  5. Jarrod Says:

    Amen Fella.

  6. Jeff Says:

    We can confirm this. We saw the same feature in our data center this past Tuesday! Certainly looks like they are testing the idea to give Bing a run for their money. Check out our screen shots –