Attracting 49% of all online searches and a sizeable share of all online advertising expenditures, Google risks becoming or being perceived as the most monopolistic business on Earth, even if they just stick to search, which does not appear to be their strategy. To be clear, a company must use its market might to unfairly limit the potential success of its would be competitors (or customers…) to qualify as a true monopoly. Google does not appear to have done so, yet. Despite its huge market share, mindshare, and burgeoning profits, Google faces some fairly formidable competition (and algorithmic problems with its core product), primarily from the likes of Yahoo! and MSN. Moreover, their intention to “Do no evil” appears to be genuine, so far. That being said, I understand and appreciate their decision to honor recent requests by the government of China. As Microsoft learned long ago, it’s much more difficult and expensive to support a business internationally than domestically. Despite their best intentions, I think that the risk is of a googleopoly is great.
What’s wrong with Google?
Like most people, I am inherently distrustful of monopolies. Given the inexorable pressures that investors place on publicly traded companies to maximize profits and given the HUGE market share that Google currently enjoys, I believe that a googleopoly of some form is almost inevitable. As such, I now use MSN Search for the vast majority of my searches and Yahoo! Search, as my backup.
What’s wrong with MSN Search?
In my opinion, the single biggest barrier to widespread adoption of MSN Search (or any search engine, for that matter) is not technological, it’s mindshare. The foremost reason for MSN Search’s lack of mindshare, relative to its primary competitor, is the fact that MSN Search’s name is not amenable for use as a verb. Google is easy to say and repurpose for use in conversations. MSN Search is not easy to say or use, in context. In Scott Hanselman’s recent talk at Deeper in .NET, in Milwaukee, he used Google as a verb at least 6 times. If MSN Search could be used as a verb and if it was as easy to conjugate as the verb, google, Scott may never have mentioned Google. Who knows?
Mearching and Submearching
My compadre Jana recently suggested “Mearch”, a JOIN of MSN+Search as a more friendly and flexible alternative to the ungainly MSN Search. Brilliant!
To her suggestion, I propose the addition of “submearch”, a verbal alternative to the ugly and ungainly “Subscribe to MSN Search”. Submearching is a user gesture that PubSub describes as “Search the Future”. Submearching allows you to instruct MSN Search to notify you when search results that don’t yet exist appear online.
Advantages of “Mearch”
- Descriptive—Mearch sounds more like Search than Google does. Moreover, it sounds like ‘merchandise’, the thing most people are looking for when they use MSN Search and other search engines.
- Unique—Mearch is not overloaded. It is not spelled like and does not sound like any other English verb. It’s highly mearchable!
- Memorable—Mearch is short, easy to spell, and thus easy to remember. It’s a msnemonic! For bonus points, it rhymes with search.
Mearch (and submearch) in Context
- Nominal (noun)—mearch, ego-mearch, merchability
- Alex performed a mearch of “opml-o-mater“.
- Scoble did an ego-mearch.
- The MSN Search bloggers improved the mearchability of their group blog by blogging about it in public and asking customers to suggest improvements (go Betsy go).
- Verbal—mearch, mearched, mearching
- Lawrence wondered if a proposed name for one of his open source projects, EXCommunicator, would be mearchable and so he decided to blog about it before its announcement and submearch the term so that he would be notified as soon as anyone might blog about it.