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Google on search: The real work is just starting

Google's Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience, reckons that today's search is a 90 percent solution. But the remaining 10 percent of the search equation will require more than 90 percent of the work ahead if search is to be perfected.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

Google's Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience, reckons that today's search is a 90 percent solution. But the remaining 10 percent of the search equation will require more than 90 percent of the work ahead if search is to be perfected.

Those comments by Mayer clarify comments made to the LA Times blog earlier this week. Mayer at the time said that Google had 90 percent to 95 percent of the search solution solved, but noted "there was a lot to go in the remaining 10 percent."

Here's Mayer's clarification:

We’re all familiar with 80-20 problems, where the last 20% of the solution is 80% of the work. Search is a 90-10 problem. Today, we have a 90% solution: I could answer all of my unanswered Saturday questions, not ideally or easily, but I could get it done with today’s search tool. (If you’re curious, the answers are below.) However, that remaining 10% of the problem really represents 90% (in fact, more than 90%) of the work. Coming up with elegant, fitting and relevant solutions to meet the challenges of mobility, modes, media, personalization, location, socialization, and language will take decades. Search is a science that will develop and advance over hundreds of years. Think of it like biology and physics in the 1500s or 1600s: it’s a new science where we make big and exciting breakthroughs all the time. However, it could be a hundred years or more before we have microscopes and an understanding of the proverbial molecules and atoms of search. Just like biology and physics several hundred years ago, the biggest advances are yet to come. That’s what makes the field of Internet search so exciting.

The underlying message: The game is just beginning and you won't recognize the search engine 10 years in the future. The future search engine will be personalized, location aware, social and able to navigate various languages.

Here's an interview via Beet.tv.

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