Crystal Ball Panel: What’s Next in Search

OK, continuing live-ish coverage of SMX Toronto.

Gillian presents on how search is changing, then asks the panel some questions.

Search is changing …

Search is changing, but it’s not going anywhere.

There are more options now:

  • Mobile market is growing. Everywhere. 890mm web enabled mobile phones will ship in 2010
  • And it’s paying off. Everywhere.

Social – Mobile – Local is the power triumvirate of 2010.

The biggest thing happening is these deep databases that are learning more and more about you. The big question is on privacy issues:

  • What will the government do?
  • What will the search industry do?
  • What are the ramifications of these deep databases

The panel had concerns, but the audience didn’t seem to share these concerns. I think there’s a generational thing here. [I side with the people younger than me, as I wrote in on the internet everybody knows you’re a dog. Gillian says that 1984 is coming it was just off by a few years, and we need the government to step in. Rob says that he was expecting the backlash to come after the AOL data leak a few years ago, and still thinks the backlash is coming. Larry is on the other side. He says he’s happier to get targeted ads than untargeted ones. He doesn’t share Gillian’s fears of 1984.

[I’m with Larry:

Larry Bailin
Larry Bailin
  1. Generally speaking, I’m more afraid of governments than of corporations.
  2. The internet and the world are better places with more reputation and less anonymity. Perhaps the Age of Anonymity was a temporary state that began with the growth of cities and is ending right about now.
  3. The problem with 1984 wasn’t the knowledge, just as the problems with other dystopias aren’t the technology. The increase of knowledge is more good than bad.]

Gillian closes the session saying that she bets that next year we’ll be talking a lot about legislation on privacy issues.

Question 2: Will the dominant device for accessing the web be Apple devices? iPhone? iPad? “The consumer feels safer on the Apple.”

[Yeah, I don’t buy it. Also, there are really 2 questions here. Apple vs other companies, and handhelds vs laptops & desktops.]

Jeff: I don’t know how many of you saw Steve Jobs talking yesterday. He’s saying that Apps are going to be the new gateway to data. This is going to be an interesting question to watch over the next couple of years. Are we going to be using  a Weather App or Universal Search? [My money is on Universal Search].

Jeff Lancaster
Jeff Lancaster

Q: Regarding Apps, what’s going to be the dominant platform?

Gillian Muessig: I think Apple. iPhones and iPods.

Larry: Blackberry is still a dominant player. You have to check out your market. If you’re audience is Wall Street, they’re using Blackberries. If you’re developing for this crowd, you want Apple. [Thank you Larry. It’s so common for people to forget that their market isn’t always the same as the people they spend most of their time with].

Voice activated technology

Gillian: We’re going to be using voice more and more.

Rob:It’s getting pretty good.

Q: Government now gives us schools, and hospitals (in Canada), etc. We used to need unions because there were no labor laws [he probably meant in with labor a u], now maybe we don’t need unions because we have government. , what would be bad if the government took over the internet?


Q: Is Bing / Yahoo going to be a serious competitor?

Rob: I think they’re going to be a stronger #2, which is important. Will they be a Google killer? That would be quite a ways off, if it did happen.

Rob Garner
Rob Garner

What’s the big takeaway?

Larry: The future is difficult. Last time I was here was 3 years ago, and we all knew the future, it was Second Life. 3 months later it was dead. I think the integration, the combining of information … what you can’t lose focus on is that all these things are great, they’re all going to come and go, the good ones will stick. Think about the core, the things that have been here for a while. People tend to stop talking about the Web Sites. That’s still the core. Don’t forget the core the fundamentals, those will always apply. Tools are great, bu they’re just tools.

Jeff: I would echo that. There are a lot of things happening in the space, we still need to get the basics right, there’s a lot of that still needs to happen. Getting the most out of simple things like SEO. Other things: Personalization has been active since December, that’s something to watch, how can you leverage that? And Real Time integration. We don’t see this stuff as much in Canada as they do in the US, but keep an eye on this stuff. The integratoin of Social also.

Rob: I would absolutely echo what we heard here. Get the basics right. Look at personalization, real time, mobile, local. Everything is splintering off, they call it the splinternet. So look at what’s concrete, the fundamentals, producing content, keep it clean. If you stick to the fundamentals, everything will work out.

Jeff: Agreed

Gillian: Look at ARGs. advertising inside games, also off-line, social meet-ups. Leveraging local, mobile, online and offline reality. There are amazing things being done. Look at in game marketing pieces, I think those are the big things on the horizon that we’re not really looking at yet.

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