Google Blogoscoped

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Search Engine Survivors

“Who will survive and what will be left of them?”
– The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Tagline

Six years ago, in 1999, the Google search engine was one of many. Here’s what CNN’s Matt Lake and Dylan Tweney had to say about the search engine landscape back then, and what happened in the meantime. (If you are in some way related to any of the sites diagnosed as “dead”, you may want to visit the recently launched, featuring Excite, and others.)

Back then: “A powerful general-purpose search engine”
Now: Owned by Yahoo. Displaying Yahoo search results. Were they eaten by their own pop-ups? (I remember it was their portalitis that turned me away and to Google, initially.)
Bottom line: Dead.

Ask Jeeves
Back then: “Think of Ask Jeeves as your very own, very knowledgeable librarian.”
Now: Owned by IAC. Still displaying their own results.
Bottom line: Survivor.

Back then: “When one search engine’s index doesn’t yield all the data you’re looking for, metasearch sites such as Dogpile come into their own.”
Now: Still meta, mixing natural results from Google and others with sponsored links (which are hardly made visible as such).
Bottom line: Dead.

MSN back in ’99... more is more?

Microsoft Network (MSN)
Back then: “Like its browser-war opponent Netscape, Microsoft maintains a search site in which it bestows regal favor on other Web search sites that pledge their fealty to the kingdom – in this case, AltaVista, InfoSeek, Lycos, and Snap.”
Now: Uses a recently introduced, revamped original search engine which is working OK.
Bottom line: Survivor.

Back then: “A single Excite search provides all kinds of results – not just Web page links.”
Now: Portal features were cool back then, as the comment shows. This has the exact same meta-sponsor-mashup as DogPile. closed down for a while, as the Museum of E-Failure shows, but now offers Web 0.5 portal features such as the scantily clad “Exciting Girl of the day."
Bottom line: Dead.

Back then: “Currently in beta phase (whatever that means – the site is up and running, and that’s all that counts), Google is quick and to the point and rapidly gaining fans among Web searchers.
Now: Arguably the world’s search engine king. It’s interesting to note in CNN’s article, the word “ranking” appeared solely in the description of Google. It’s also nice to see people complained about Google’s lax interpretation of “Beta” even back then.
Bottom line: Survivor.

Back then: “This site is great at locating Web pages posted during a specific period of time.”
Now: Copyright by Lycos. Uses results from Google, adding some neon colors and black-and-white patterns. A sad good-bye note has been encoded in the Robots.txt file of HotBot, which in a comment reads “No robot will spider the domain”, disallowing all user-agents (consequently, it has a PageRank of 0).
Bottom line: Dead.

Back then: “InfoSeek is the search engine component of the Go Network, an array of Web content sites affiliated with Disney and ABC. Like other search sites, InfoSeek uses a simple one-box search form”
Now: Search powered by Google. ’Nuff said.
Bottom line: Dead.

Back then: “An attractive, convenient search site, Lycos combines news, product offers, and other consumer niceties with its Web page search results.”
Now: Uses results from Ask Jeeves. The dog to the left of the search box seems to be guarding against strangers.
Bottom line: Dead.

Netscape’s multi-purpose Netcenter, a Swiss army knife for the really undecided.

Netscape Netcenter
Back then: “Netscape’s NetCenter collects half a dozen different Web search sites under a single URL – seven sites if you count Netscape’s branded version of Excite as a separate entity.”
Now: now redirects to The funniest thing about is that it completely crashes Netscape Navigator 3. Everything else about it is rather sad.
Bottom line: Dead.

Back then: “Aside from being a top-notch search engine and the most popular portal on the Web, Yahoo is a carefully constructed, laboriously maintained subject catalog of the Web. This makes it an ideal instrument for your first search.”
Now: Yahoo is delivering search results almost as good as the ones from Google. They recently beat Google at the API game.
Bottom line: Survivor.


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