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Search Gets Serious: Google Squared vs. Wolfram Alpha

|Includes: Alphabet Inc. (GOOG)

Introduction: TechCrunch brings the latest news back from Google's Searchology event, a ohh-ahh rally conference for technophiles and investors to get excited about the latest offerings from Google. Google Squared is a newer product being formulated in Google Labs, and produces search results in a similar manner to Wolfram Research's Wolfram Alpha. http://www.wolframalph...

Both Google Squared and Wolfram Alpha differ from existing search offerings because they store their data in well organized databases. While organizing data into logical database areas involves a tremendous amount of additional administrative and management overhead, it makes the search results much more powerful, as they can be calculated and reported on much easier. The search results page from both offerings is said to resemble more of a spreadsheet format, instead of the massive text returns found on most search engines.

Some observers have noted that Google and Wolfram Alpha are not necessarily competing over the same user base. This line of thought says that Google is for the consumer, while Wolfram Alpha is for the scientific and academic users. In any case, competition is alive and well in search, and innovation like this is a healthy sign in an area that has long been stagnant.


One of the next frontiers of search is taking all of the unstructured data spread helter-skelter across the Web and treat it like it is sitting in a nice, structured database. It is easier to get answers out of a database where everything is neatly labeled, stamped, and categorized. As the sheer volume of stuff on the Web keeps growing, keyword search keeps getting closer to its breaking point. Adding structure to the Web is one way to make sense of all that data, and Google is starting the tackle the problem with a Google Labs project called Google Squared, which Marissa Mayer mentioned earlier today at the company’s Searchology briefing.

Google Squared extracts data from Web pages and presents them in search results as squares in an online spreadsheet. Michael was at the event and got a personal demo (see video below). From Michael’s Searchology notes:

Google Squared is launching later this month in labs. Google Squared returns search results in a spreadsheet format. It structures the unstructured data on web pages. So a search for Small Dogs returns results with names, description, size, weight, origin, etc., in columns and rows.

Google is looking for data structures on the web that imply facts, and then grabbing it for Squared results. “It takes an incredible amount of compute power to create one of those squares,” she says.



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