The New York Times has an awesome article and interview up on its website that features Stephen Wolfram, the founder of the search engine Wolfram Alpha. Perhaps not so surprisingly, Wolfram announced to the Times that Siri accounts for about 25 percent of all queries on Wolfram Alpha:[quote]Siri accounts for about a quarter of the queries fielded by Wolfram Alpha, whose staff has grown to 200. Several large companies in health care, financial services and oil and gas recently hired Dr. Wolfram’s private company, Wolfram Research, to do tailored corporate versions of Wolfram Alpha for them. Microsoft also licenses Wolfram Alpha technology.[/quote]
The quote has got me thinking a little bit about search engines and where that kind of technology is heading in the future. Aggregating results from the Internet and providing results to the webizens isn’t something that’s going to disappear any time soon, but the way we interact with a search engine is changing dramatically. With spam results both from SEO spammers and Google prioritizing its own results within a search, honest, unbiased, and valuable results are rarely being prioritized on the native Google search results page these days. Siri, and by extension, any application, can reach out and take advantage of multiple search databases, and provide users with relevant results, without ever having to visit the Wolfram Alpha website, or Google.
The steps taken by Apple to get Siri access to important information is pretty genius, and it’s undoubtably redefining the way we use search engines and get results. Instead of relying on one source, like Google, for all of your results, Siri could reach out to different services to gain access to search results. For instance, looking for a new music album? Siri could reach out to iTunes or Spotify, or any other service of your choice. Looking to rent a new movie? Siri could return results from Netflix. Want to read some new Apple news? Hell, Siri could reach out to Macgasm and search our database for results. In every one of these cases it would be almost impossible for SEO spammers to game the system for better search results, and in every one of these cases, Siri would get more accurate results directly from a service that specializes in the information Siri is looking for instead of relying on generalized services like Google. Siri is already reaching out to Yelp for its restaurant location-based recommendations, what’s to stop it from doing something similar for other popular requests in music, film, or news?
Apple is actually directly competing with Google doing what it does best, piecing together existing technologies into a more intuitive and usable service. Search just got a whole lot more interesting, if you ask us.