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In an Instant, Google pulls further ahead of Microsoft, Yahoo

Google Instant is the latest salvo in the ongoing battle for search share

September 9, 2010 06:00 AM ET

Computerworld - Now that Microsoft's Bing and Yahoo officially have joined forces, Google needed to turn around and offer up a new, splashy feature that would give them a clear edge.

And that's just what Google did on Wednesday, when the company unveiled Google Instant, say industry analysts.

Google Instant is aimed at speeding search results by searching as you type. The new, dynamic feature, which began to be rolled out Wednesday, is about starting the search process before the user even finishes typing in the query. Google is now predicting what people will be asking for.

The move is a "dramatic break" from the traditional Google search experience, says Hadley Reynolds, an analyst with IDC.

"While many of the familiar [search] elements are still in place, the speed and streaming aspects of Google's understanding of the user query and presentation of the results will be revolutionary," Reynolds said.

"The traditional Google search model was incredibly wasteful of users' time... Instant will help show what the right links are more quickly," he said.

Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of Search Products, said, "The user benefits of Google Instant are many but the primary one is time saved." Mayer announced the new feature at the company's launch event in San Francisco yesterday.

"Our testing has shown that Google Instant saves the average searcher 2 to 5 seconds per search. That may not seem like a lot at first, but it adds up," she said.

Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, said he agreed that on first thought, it might not sound like a lot of time saved, but it could be enough to give Google a leg up on its search competition.

"Google did some more math and figured it would save users 3.5 billion seconds per day. I'm not sure what we're all going to do with the extra time, but hopefully we'll think of something," Olds said. "This gives Google something to brag about. I think that this is a feature that Microsoft will have to add to Bing in the near future. It's pretty useful and gives Google a clear competitive advantage."



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