Is Google Purposely NOT Innovating Search?

March 19, 2010

I recently went back and looked at my list of search innovations (my list of product and development opportunities for search providers) from a few years back and realized that most of the list would stay on my list if I was to make up a list today.

Fundamentally, Google is full of smart people and must have the technologies to do much of what is on the list. They are innovating a lot, but why aren’t they innovating their search functionality? Is Google Purposely NOT innovating search?

My hypothesis is that the better they are able to point a search request to the exact right resource to address their search, the lower their advertising revenue. If this is the case, why would they innovate? The only really good business* reason would be because a competitor gets close to their capabilities and takes search share from them. Perhaps a search engine like Bing or some competition from Facebook? There actually are not that many companies to point to right now that could give Google a good competitive fight and it is hard to imagine a start-up that moves quickly through the start-up and expansion stages without Google making a purchase offer to eliminate the competition. It is also hard to imagine the venture capital that would be required to overtake Google in search or whether it would be possible to get venture funding for this idea.

The only really good search competition that I can come up with is that something like social media somehow develops to a point whereby their is a much easier approach to finding what the user is looking for. Another possibility is that an ecosystem of innovators breaks down the Google search monopoly the way that open source software has had an impact on commercial software. While I don’t see this happening anytime soon, it is plausible. If something like this doesn’t happen, then my list of possible search innovations is going to be the same in the future.

*this assumes that not innovating for economic reasons doesn’t trip over their “do no evil” statement. In my view it isn’t evil not to innovate if it the innovation is going to lower your economic results).

Founder & Partner

As the founder of OpenView, Scott focuses on distinctive business models and products that uniquely address a meaningful market pain point. This includes a broad interest in application and infrastructure companies, and businesses that are addressing the next generation of technology, including SaaS, cloud computing, mobile platforms, storage, networking, IT tools, and development tools.