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Friday, 17 February 2017 04:14

Google will die eventually. They know that and yesterday’s “Alphabet” announcement is nothing more than the preparation.

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I love technology and I love being a tech CEO. It’s a good job really because it’s all I know, I was programming when I was 11!

I love the fact that the advancement of technology means you never actually get any closer to the finish line. Whatever you achieve today just lets you see further and the you see there is more to do. It’s an incredible driving force that moves you on and the process of that you deliver amazing creativity. (It surprises me occasionally that some people don’t realise technology is creative. It is!)

Technology is an impossible war to win.

You can win battles, definitely – Microsoft won the desktop OS, Apple and Google call a tie in smartphones. You can concede battles too – see how Microsoft stepped back from music and effectively mobile now . And you can definitely get killed in the fighting – just look at Blackberry and Nokia. But you can actually never win the war because the war ever ends, it just moves on and that’s what drives us all forward. And actually the art of survival as a tech company is to move onto the next frontier at the right time.

There was a big illustration of that yesterday when Google reorganised itself creating a parent company called Alphabet and moving the search engine business down into a company called Google and pulling non-search businesses out of Google into their own separate companies.

Google's announcement is online at the new Alphabet company website at abc.xyz

Google won the search battle, but the victory only lasts so long

In the west, at least, Google won the war for search, we all know that. Yahoo! stopped doing search ages ago, Ask Jeeves and Altavista went the way of the dodo and no-one seriously uses Bing despite Microsoft’s best efforts. But Google knows that search as we know it will die eventually and that’s why the reconfiguration of the company isn’t just corporate faffing, it’s an essential part of the company’s survival.

Let me explain.

15 years ago some of us were Yahoo! users – we preferred their human curated directory, Some of us were Ask Jeeves users – we liked the charming way it appeared to answer questions, or at least that’s what the branding said. But while we all used different search engines we all searched the same way. We went to a search engine website on a desktop PC, typed in our keywords and key phrases and hit Search. Boom – results came, And it felt like magic.

But that’s changing now.

I search on Google less today than I did a month ago.

And I definitely search less on Google today than I did a year ago. That’s despite Google’s search getting better almost every day!

Another search engine hasn’t taken Google’s place – other ways of getting what I want are creeping in and replacing the whole concept of a search engine.

In time, search “engines” as we know them will vanish.

I’m in Boston today and as I was packing for my flight last night I wanted to check the weather. But I didn’t go and check Google like I used to, I just spoke across the bedroom to Alexa, the voice inside my Amazon Echo “Alexa, what’s the weather like in Boston?”. Alexa heard and she read me a three day weather forecast as I was packing. No search engine needed.

After packing I was back at my desk on my Mac and wanted to look up the definition of a word on Wikipedia. But I didn’t go to Google like I used to. I just hit CMD+ Space on my keyboard, typed straight into the Spotlight universal search field built into Mac OSX and immediately got search results for that word from across my Mac, the entire Reward Gateway storage cloud at work and, of course, the internet and Wikipedia. All of that data searched in less than a second and it didn’t use Google.

When I went to bed and docked by iPhone to charge for the night I couldn’t remember my flight time “Hey Siri, check times for Lufthansa flight 422 tomorrow” and Siri responded with an internet search containing those flight details.

This technology is here now.

Now I’m a tech entrepreneur so you can expect me to be a bit of an early adopter and at the more extreme end of the curve on this stuff but I promise you this stuff is here now. It might not be in every home yet but it will be and Google’s reformat of the company just shows outwardly what they’ve known and been working on for years. Google have been investing hundreds of millions in the next battle for many years – connected home with Nest and self driving vehicles just the highest profile ones.

Google the search engine will die eventually – it won the battle yes but it will die of old age replaced by something else, probably quicker than anyone will expect. But I’m pretty certain that Alphabet, with it’s incredible innovation, talent, resources and hunger for advancement will be here in the future. And generations of the future might find it odd that the world’s biggest transport company, or the world’s biggest “something” started as a search engine.

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Author : Glenn Elliott

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