For example, if I use 3 different computers daily
≠ say a work computer, a home computer and a laptop ≠ I am
presented with 3 different hardware configurations all running
different applications. Some people even use other hardware
like cell phones and PDAs to browse the web, throwing even more
complexity into the mix.
Granted, Google is best known for running itís
data centers initially on a variety of hardware so that isnít
really an issue. The major issues come down to the software
used on the different systems.
For example, at work I used a Windows based
computer with Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer. However
at home I run a Linux based desktop with OpenOffice and Firefox
as my browser. Right away there are issues with
interoperability between the two systems.
Granted there are ways around this, but Iíll let
Google worry about this :)
But with the current state of the web, we really
arenít that far from some sort of hybrid system where we have a
desktop which connects us to a variety of web based
applications. In fact we use many of these applications right
This is why I like to look at modern search
engines as platforms rather than operating systems. I also
think this line between platform an OS is going to continue to
blur over time.
I consider them platforms because they are taking
more and more off the desktop and making them available on the
web, regardless of the operating system you use.
Take Gmail ≠ itís an industrial strength email
application thatís years ahead of its predecessors like
Hotmail. Yahoo! Mail realizes this and has taken steps to
improve itís offering, making it appear more like a web based
Exchange server, and Microsoft is also revamping Hotmail
similarly. Plus, all the major email providers have improved
spam filtering and increased storage.
But it doesnít stop there.
Using Yahoo! for example, I can schedule
appointments on a web based calendar and even share it with
others. Iím sure the others will be offering similar
functionality in the near future. But it goes beyond webmail,
calendaring, shopping, and mapping.
Search engines are beginning to realize that
search can be consolidated into almost all our electronic work.
Microsoft has begun integrating more web search
into itís desktop applications, such as Word and Excel. Now
when you search with them you no longer get just help file
results, it also goes to the web and returns results off other
When you perform a desktop search with any of the
major desktop search applications, they too also integrate local
results with web results.
But what else can this ďsearch as a platformĒ
mean to us ≠ the search consumer?
Well, it should mean more search centric
products, in other words, products that integrate searching into
them. We will also have more choice in the type of product.
There are many (unexplored) ways to get search (and of course
advertising) onto the screens of users, whether they are using a
search engine or not and searching from their desktop or not.
Take instant messaging, for example. One of the
most used applications in the under 20 crowd, yet its
advertising potential remains virtually untapped. MSN has a
search box on MSN Messenger now, but that is a fairly recent
addition, and they have virtually no way to monetize the product
other than the odd ad they serve on it.
Similarly, Google IM has no ads (yet) but I
wouldnít be surprised to see small text links appear on it in
the future as well.
Just take a minute to think of all the activities
you partake in online. Imagine these integrating with search
(if they donít already) and you begin to get an idea of how
search will become the backbone of all our online activities.
From browsing your TV listings, to planning your next meal.
It makes sense really. With the web growing as
quickly as it does, search becomes not the means to an end, but
the means to navigate all that free information.
We know already that search is not a linear
process. If you think of it, try and remember the steps it
takes you to get to your next search result. You will likely
find that your process isnít ďsearch, scan, click.Ē Itís more
like ďsearch, scan, click, back button, click, back button,
refine, scan, click.....Ē and so on.
We have become so accustomed to using search
engines to navigate the web that we will become more used to
seeing search in all our online activities. Hence search
engines move from the gateway to the web to the platform which
integrates us into the web.
A Google OS? Sure itís a possibility. And as I
said we are already seeing more and more integration between
applications, our use of these applications and search, so by
the time Google does release an OS we will realize then that
weíve been using such a system for some time already. The OS
will really only be a way to tie all the Google web based
applications together on the desktop.
And thatís what an OS is really ≠ a program that manages our
access to other programs.
Rob Sullivan - SEO Specialist and Internet Marketing
Consultant. Any reproduction of this article needs to have an html link
Search Engine Optimization
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