Mearch This: Googleopoly

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).

  • Verbalmearch, mearched, mearching

  • Adjectivemearchable

    • 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.

Comments (8)

  1. BlakeHandler says:

    I truly love your company — but there is some irony when a Microsoft employee says "Like most people, I am inherently distrustful of monopolies." (^_^)

  2. IDisposable says:

    Looks like it should be pronouced like "merch", which is slang for merchandise… not the idea I want for a generic search.  I long ago proposed "seq" as a nice short verb for searching… but nobody liked it 🙁  It has the advantage that there’s only a squatter on it…

  3. MSDNArchive says:

    I would contend that there is as much irony in a statement from a Microsoft employee who asserts that, "Like most people, I am inherently distrustful of monopolies" as there is in a statement of like nature from the son of an alcoholic who has been sober for several years. I love Microsoft. I believe in Microsoft. But I also distrust the allure and seeming irresistibility of the market pressures that occasion the exercise of abusive exercises of power. I recognize the warning signs because, as a "son" of Microsoft, I am acutely sensitive to and aware of them.

    For what it’s worth, I was a customer of Microsoft prior to the anti-trust trial, just like you. Now, I am an employee. I have not reaped great profit from my employer’s allegedly monopolistic practices.

    I earn a fair wage. I "own" a few stock options, all but a couple of hundred of which are "underwater". Whatever investments I have made in Microsoft have been founded in a deep and abiding belief that Microsoft has a duty and a capacity to effect positive change, to improve people’s lives through technology.

    If I worked for Google, I would undoubtedly be saying the same exact things, albeit in a more private medium. Every single Google employee has a responsibity to do the right thing as every Microsoft employee does.

  4. Frank Hileman says:

    I know why I abandoned MSN search, and use google nearly always. Google performs better for my searches.

    The ability to advertise in very narrow markets for low cost also helps their market share.

    Microsofts new clumsy product names don’t help.

    Mearch is awful in my ears. Sounds like mooch, or lurch. Or a combination of the two.

  5. A few days ago, I boldly asserted that, "Attracting 49% of all online searches and a sizeable…

  6. David Locke says:

    40% of the market does not a monopoly make. If MapQuest didn’t feed me some aggrevating ad over and over one night, I’d still be using them, but now I use Google for maps as well. That wasn’t Google’s fault.

    The threshold for calling something a monopoly is 74% or 76%.