Google Counters Microsoft With New Features, Including Real-Time Search

Marissa Mayer @ Web 2.0

Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is upping the ante in the search market. A week after Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) rolled out a series of updates to its upstart Bing search engine at an event in San Francisco, Google followed up with its own news:

Real-time search: Google is finally releasing its long-expected real-time search service. The search engine will now include some real-time updates among its standard web results. A scroll bar lets users see the various real-time entries without crowding the entire results page. Click “pause” and the listings stops refreshing.

The results come from sites across the web, including the WSJ and Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) Answers, as well as from public updates on Facebook and MySpace, as a result of partnerships Google just announced with those two companies; a previous relationship with Twitter was announced earlier this fall after Microsoft announced one of its own.

So, what’s the money-making opportunity here for Google? Fellow Amit Singhal said there were no direct ones for the moment. “We are concentrated on bringing the most value to our users,” he said. “I believe the space is very, very young. As time goes on, new models will develop.”

Mobile search options: The company says it’s working to take location into account when it suggests searches on mobile phones. So, a user who begins to type the letters “Re” in Boston would see “Red Sox,” while one in San Francisco would see the retailer “REI.”

Google will also begin to soon include listings of products available in stock near to a user’s location in its product search. That will pit it against several startups, including Milo.com, that already let users search store inventories in real-time.

VP Vic Gundotra also showed off Google’s voice search function for mobile phones, which lets users speak queries into their phones. He said that users can now search using additional languages, including Mandarin and Japanese. And yet another mobile search feature — called Goggles — lets users take photos of objects and then returns search results about them. For now, it’s in Google Labs and only available for Android phones, but Gundotra said the ultimate goal is to have Google be able to “visually identify any image.”

Read about all the mobile search updates here.

As for Microsoft, which unveiled its own real-time search feature in November as well as some mobile search updates last week, it was mentioned only in passing at the event.

Asked about Microsoft’s strategy of pulling data from third-party sources directly onto its results pages for some queries, so that users don’t have to navigate away to another site, Google VP Marissa Mayer (pictured) said that while Google too wants to get users the information they want more quickly, it did not want to create “most-authoritative pages” for common queries, since the web “thrives on openness” and doing so would create a “much more closed system.”

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