Search – still a big thing?

Although Google has attracted a lot of attention and is defacto “owning” the search category, in my opinion, there is still a lot of room to grow for others. A proof of my theory was a discussion with Marissa Meyer last week at the DLD06, where she confirmed that many start-ups are trying to innovate with new technology or new search focuses. She believes that it might only be a question of time before somebody will come up with a more innovative approach to search, which we don’t know of as of now.

I totally agree with this view. Google has achieved a lot and is definately a very interesting company, but as the recent Google/Yahoo etc. acquisitions have shown, there is still a lot of uncovered territory as far as “search” is concerned. Recently, I have personally seen many new start-ups focusing on gaming search, video search, music search etc. – all territories, where Google et al. still need to catch up with.

One specific search category I feel very strong about is the approach to local search. What I mean with that is not only “yellow pages” and searching for names or addresses or recommendations (many user generated approaches are out there). One aspect I find very intriguing is the area of local search / local shopping.

Example: I want to buy an iPod, but as I also appreciate personal service and a customer representative, whom I can call any time something goes wrong. I probably won’t shop at eBay, but would be interested to know the followings things:

a.) Where can I find a product nearby / in my town / region?

b.) Where can I buy it the cheapest?

c.) Where is it on stock now or within the next 1-2 days?

What I mean with this is the combination of information on products, vicinity / locality, availability and price. This requires a step forward in the classical search approach and various start-ups in the US are eagerly exploring new ways and concepts.

Takeaway: Search is still going to an interesting topic for start-ups and VCs. Many variations of search are already tested or are going to appear; opening the doors for potential acquisitions by Google / Yahoo etc.

Recommendations: Have a look at what is happening in the US in terms of local search. Some of these ideas might be applicable for Europe / Germany as well.

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