In saying that Google’s focus in 2009 will be search, I appear to be going out on a limb. It is tough to find anyone else who pins it down so precisely.
Many seem to be following the traditional advice on forecasting. If you are making forecasts, make a lot of them. For example if you check The Big List of 2009 Marketing Predictions then you can find almost any forecast you might wish to make about Google.
ZDnet cuts it down to 15 and I must admit TalkBack 10 of 15 would seem to have merit. That states: Google’s 2009 focus: cost control and revenue. Prudent management forces that, but it still does not suggest what Google’s focus might be in the sense of giving some direction.
You might think the latest BBC video on Google’s focus in 2009 might give the answer. It poses the question: Google dominates the world of web search but will it get lucky in finding new ideas?
Their technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones went to Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters to find out. They even interview Matt Cutts who seems to suggest Google will continue to allow a lack of focus in its research activities.
Perhaps the most telling item in the video comes from a search startup in Mountain View, Kosmix. Venky Harinarayan and his business partner Anand Rajaraman co-founded Kosmix in 2005
In the Kosmix blog, they state the following about the future of search.
Current technology can come close to answering (simple) questions but it gets harder as the questions get more complex. An ideal information extraction system would not only be able to answer all these questions but will be able to tailor the answers to your needs.
According to ReadWriteWeb, that may be exactly what Google is beginning to offer. They ask, Did Google Just Expose Semantic Data in Search Results?
In what appears to us to be a new addition to many Google search results pages, queries about birth dates, family connections and other information are now being responded to with explicitly semantic structured information. Who is Bill Clinton’s wife? What’s the capital city of Oregon? What is Britney Spears’ mother’s name? The answers to these and other factual questions are now displayed above natural search results in Google and the information is structured in the traditional subject-predicate-object format, or "triples," of semantic web parlance.
That is why I come down firmly on the view that the simple answer on Google’s focus is as always search. In lean times they may even focus more strongly on search while not forgetting the bottom line.