Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that the future of search was blazing-fast, “autonomous” searching that constantly provides users with results. He made the comments at a keynote speech at the German IFA home electronics event in Berlin Tuesday.
But autonomous search isn’t really search as we think of it — a user querying a massive database to get a result. Schmidt likened it to telling a user what he or she didn’t know, but was probably interested in seeing. Google already sees more than a billion searches cross their servers daily, and providing an automated process that is constantly providing search data can only boost those numbers.
That means more potential ad revenue from Google’s advertisements running with searches. Advertising made up about 96 percent of Google’s revenue in the first six months of 2010, according to company financials. Try as it might to diversify away from that revenue stream, for now, search-linked advertising is Google’s highly lucrative trick.
The company brought in $6.8 billion for the quarter ending June 30. Improving that by even a small percentage could bring a huge payout for Google.
For now, old-fashioned search is growing quickly on mobile. Google said about 33 percent of mobile searches related to users’ location, and mobile search grew by 50 percent, and searches on Google’s Android mobile operating system tripled, in the first half of 2010. But tech pundits theorize that users will increasingly use task-specific apps to find what they need rather than perform general searches.
The autonomous approach faces risks, from provoking a privacy backlash to draining users’ batteries through constant queries. But the biggest risk is that mobile users will drift away from Google, which has become all but synonymous with search on computers.