While the launch of Microsoft’s Bing and its deal to acquire Yahoo’s search business temporarily put the focus on “market share” and “user experience,” in search, what really matters are great search algorithms and the infrastructure to support them. And to remind us all of that, Google yesterday evening rolled out a preview version of its new search technology, Caffeine.
“For the last several months, a large team of Googlers has been working on a secret project: a next-generation architecture for Google’s web search,” the company wrote on its blog. “It’s the first step in a process that will let us push the envelope on size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness and other dimensions.”
I don’t have much to say about this new effort: Matt Cutts, a Google evangelist, does a pretty good job explaining it. What I do want to point out is that sometimes it’s easy to focus — and I, too, am guilty of this — only on Google’s front end, and to forget that it really is a technology company that hides most of its achievements under a plain-Jane interface.
A casual observer might not find any huge “visual” difference in this new preview version of Google Search. And Google doesn’t want us to. After all, the single biggest asset for Google is the simplicity and familiarity of its interface.