How good is Google? +/-
(Economist) As search engines go, in other words, Google has clearly been a runaway success. Not only is its own site the most popular for search on the web, but it also powers the search engines of major portals, such as Yahoo! and AOL. All told, 75% of referrals to websites now originate from Google's algorithms. Eric Schmidt, its chief executive, understood that the key to monetising all those customer searches (now 200m a day) was to place small, unobtrusive and highly relevant text advertisements alongside Google's search results. Advertisers like this system because they pay only if web surfers actually click on their links. And consumers either do not mind, or even learn to love these commercial links for their relevance, just as they appreciate the Yellow Pages. For Google to stay permanently ahead of other search-engine technologies is almost impossible, since it takes so little to lose the lead. In contrast to a portal such as Yahoo!, which also offers customers free e-mail and other services, a pure search engine is always but a click away from losing users. Yahoo!, in fact, will probably be the first to attack. Even more frightening (especially to those who remember Netscape's fate in the browser wars), Microsoft smells blood. It is currently working on its own search algorithm, which it hopes to make public early next year, around the probable time of Google's share listing.