Jeff Atwood (Coding Horror) correctly points out that when we refer to search engines, we are really only referring to one – google. With its easy to use, efficient and most importantly effective search functionality, there really is no reason to use another search engine.
Jeff raises a couple of valid points. With no viable competition, where is the incentive for them to improve the functionality. It’s pleasant to see that google still invests time and money into improving features including the ability to personalise your search results. However, the question of how long they will keep doing this is worth asking…
The more interesting point that Jeff raises is:
“I’m a little surprised all the people who were so up in arms about the Microsoft “monopoly” ten years ago aren’t out in the streets today lighting torches and sharpening their pitchforks to go after Google.”
My view on this is straightforward. Yes, google is a monopoly on the search market. There is no viable competition. Yes, it possibly uses this position in the market to push itself out more and more to the masses.
However, the reason microsoft got into the bad books (at least for me) is that while it provided (or provides) fantastic software – it doesn’t treat its customers fairly. Budling Internet Explorer with windows is fine IF it also bundled Netscape/Firefox which was/is a strong competitor and the only reason people did not use them was lack of experience / knowledge of the option.
The reason google is successful is because it is the only viable choice. There is no other option. If Internet Explorer had no competitor. Then, its fine to include that exclude the others.
Then there is the unfairness in how Microsoft priced the products in relation to the number of issues / bugs that were in the product. Not to mention the feeling that, as customers, you were paying for the privilege of beta testing software.
As a software engineer, I am well aware of the issue around bugs. They are present, and always will be. That’s the nature of software. The issue is not just the number of bugs that are present in software shipped but also the amount of time it takes to resolve them.
It’s not the monopolisation of the market that “got them”. It was their attitude. The monopolisation of the market was the tool used to get them. Kinda like Al Capone being arrested for Tax evasion instead of all the other crimes he commited since that was the only way to get him.