12 May, 2009

Can Wolfram Alpha compete against Google?

In less than a week, on May the 18th, the much anticipated Wolfram Alpha search engine will be launched. When it launches, 'it will be one of the most computationally intensive websites on the internet', so claims Wolfram|Alpha on its blog; however different the search engine, which its creators insist is not a search engine but a 'computational knowledge engine' - wants to be and wants to give search results, it still has to serve the same one main purpose as Google, Yahoo and the other major search engines and what they strive to be - Wolfram Alpha has to answer questions and give search results in a way that is useful. Google, has so far, excelled at doing that.

And Wolfram Alpha has to compete with that one and only Google; it cannot avoid that. Many are even touting the new arrival as a 'Google killer'. But: can it even be a real competitor to Google? I very much doubt that it will be much different or any more useful than previous new search engines which all claimed to be different, innovative, with a different strategy and still useful. Google's other established competitors, like Yahoo!, have tried and claimed; and failed. And remember Cuil, the much advertised and hyped search engine which was released last year and many claimed that it would 'kill' Google - but where is it now? Or Clusty or Powerset or True Knowledge or Kosmix or the many others who have come and vanished? And how many know of Kartoo or Quintura?

Just as most of us used to think no browser would come up as good as Internet Explorer, but were proved wrong when some have come up better and more useful than IE, and Chrome might even overtake IE; so, in the same way, we cannot think or imagine another search engine, coming up, better than Google. One day, definitely, there will be a search engine that will overtake the giant. But I don't see that as happening right now. Google is still too innovative, very creative and the most user friendly; and it has so many other very useful and excellent complimentary support services, like Gmail, Knol, Analytics, Language Translator, News, Blogger, Book Search and Chrome - to name just a few - for any competitor to challenge it that easily. And now, as before when new competitors have sprang up to try to unseat it, Google is preparing. And as before, it is the new competitor that will most likely be killed.