Why search technologies are going to recombine

I gave a talk Monday starting from the premise that there are at least 8 separate text technology markets. But one of the concluding points was that many of these distinct markets are poised to recombine. Here are some examples of what I mean.

  • Google is the leader in web search. It is a leader in enterprise search, site search, web mail, and instant messaging as well.
  • Microsoft is one of the two runners-up in web search. Counting the FAST acquisition, it is a leader in enterprise search and site search as well. It is the leader in on-premises email, and a leader in web mail and instant messaging.
  • Web search, site search, enterprise search, and custom publishing are four different things, even though they share the same foundation (keyword text search). But they should reconverge somewhat over time. For example, the “faceted” search that works well in more controlled settings has never proven very useful for web search engines – but that just means they should keep trying until they get it right. Ditto for the growing trend of integrating text and database search.
  • Social networking technologies aren't exempt. For example, Facebook just added inbox search, and there's a lot of agreement with my view that Twitter needs much better filtering.
  • Portals are in the mix too. Microsoft evidently sees search as an aspect of SharePoint. SAP sees search, knowledge management, and portals as being related too. And of course the search engine/portal relationship on the web goes back to the mid-1990s.

So -- how far along do YOU think these trends are?

Related links: Each of the first two links above is a blog post with a lot of follow-up links listed at the bottom.

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