Remember when the internet was all about the browser and search? Now it’s all about apps. Besides Apple, who recognizes the change? E.B. Boyd in Fast Company says it’s Microsoft.
If Google is the Alpha dog of search, Bing is often described as the young pup yapping at its heels. But look closely and you’ll see that Bing, in some ways, is actually leap-frogging Google and leading the race in redefining what search is about.
Search isn’t about monolithic search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, et al. It’s about apps.
Search is no longer simply about looking for information. It’s about getting things done: Booking reservations, buying plane tickets, researching consumer products. And Microsoft is trying to help its users get those things done as quickly as possible. It’s trying, simply put, to make search results less like a list of links and more like an app.
A decade ago searching online was all about finding documents and web pages. Now it’s all about selective information.
Fast forward to 2010. The Internet is now a core productivity tool. People use it to perform all sorts of tasks. And yet the design of search engines, for the most part, has remained entrenched in the idea that the user is looking for a page, rather than an accomplishment.
Apple’s iPhone App Store terrifies Google because apps do the searching for information, rather than Google.
Microsoft has identified about 160 “tasks” it believes people are actually trying to accomplish when they use search—tasks like plan trips, comparison shop, buy tickets.
Sound familiar? Regarding app-ification of information:
Bing has moved ahead of Google, tackling this approach more comprehensively and for more tasks. Whether that will lead to more profits for Microsoft remains to be seen.
Google still holds the lion’s share of search traffic, but the whole nature of browser usage to search for information has changed remarkably in just the last two years. It’s all about apps. Standalone apps. Built-in browser apps.