Posted April 29, 2009 9:28 am by with 16 comments

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Whenever a new start-up makes bold claims about its search technology, my first question is usually: what’s to stop Google from building the exact same thing?

For the benefit of all future search engines, Google has kindly proved my point by practically undermining the first public demo of Wolfram Alpha with the announcement of its own structured data search.

Just how much of a threat is this Google announcement to Wolfram Alpha’s plans? Enough of a threat that TechCrunch received a screenshot that attempts to show how Google’s data just doesn’t stack up.

OK, so Wolfram Alpha’s search data does look prettier in this example. But, here are the challenges the start-up faces:

  1. What the heck is a Wolfram Alpha? I hope they re-brand.
  2. Google’s data is already public, WA’s is not.
  3. Google has a gazillion engineers that can work on this, WA doesn’t.
  4. Google is the brand billions of people love and trust, most people won’t even be able to correctly spell Wolfram Alpha in their browser.

I’m not saying start-ups shouldn’t try, I’m just pointing out why WA (and Cuil) have the odds stacked against them.

  • Gugel

    All the good domain names were taken. Wolfram Alpha was all they had left.

  • @Gugel – all the good domains cost money. I think any company that is serious about taking on Google, should invest the $500k+ to secure a stellar domain name. 🙂

  • Trying to unseat Google at this point seems to be left for the high end tech heads who believe that they simply can ‘out Google’ Google. Best of luck. Unless you have deeper pockets than, well, Google it is a fight not worth it.

    The ones that are having the most success are companies that are taking the focus off search and helping people experience different things. Interestingly enough services like Twitter are seeing that unless they have a strong internal search feature then they are limited.

    Can’t we all just get along?!?!

    Frank Reed’s last blog post..The Economy and Online Only Retailers

  • Bazil

    “I’m not saying start-ups shouldn’t try, I’m just pointing out why WA (and Cuil) have the odds stacked against them.”

    Funny, you said just that with the title…

  • @Bazil – start-ups should try and compete with Google, just not “search engine” start-ups. 😉 Google is vulnerable outside of “search.”

  • Ute

    > 1. What the heck is a Wolfram Alpha? I hope they re-brand.

    Although one could have asked exactly this question about Google a couple of years ago… it made me giggle.

    Maybe you shouldn’t be too hard on the first shot of a guy with such a first name. 😉

    Ute’s last blog post..Militärischer Hightech-Sprengstoff auf Ground Zero nachgewiesen

  • @Ute – yeah, that occurred to me as I typed it. 🙂 Maybe they’ll move it to – which would be better.

  • Eric

    Please don’t tell us you shop only at Wal-mart.
    I’d even go as far as to say that Google’s search is slightly better than mediocre. They are a stellar advertising/marketing company using their search engine. That’s it.
    I’m pulling for WA. Just maybe they have a better search product. Not too long ago the start-up called Google introduced a better product than the top search engine Yahoo had.
    C’mon cheer on the underdog.

  • Dean

    Wolfram Alpha just needs a cute little mascot. It worked for redzee 😛 Look at dat cute wittle zebra…you’re such a cute wittle zebra..yes you are…yes you are.

    Go ahead search start-ups, bang your head against the wall. If Microsoft and Yahoo can’t mount a defense with all their resources you certainly can’t.

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  • i completely agree with what you said, there is no way new search engines could challenge google and this in any area, imagine that google is partially controling 30 pr cent of the worlds economy

    technology’s last blog post..Let’s Know About : Cash Or Stock Options ?

  • It’s fine job to a writing blog for SEO, Writing a friendly blog always helpful and has better chance to get popularity among the others.

  • Google OWNS the market right now. Only real competition could come from Yahoo and MSN if they merge and improve what branding they got.

    mark’s last blog post..Free XBox 360! Get A Free XBox 360 Elite/Premium Now!

  • I’m 100% with you on this one, Andy. If you’re going to build a “better mousetrap,” you better pony up the cash for a clever domain. WA doesn’t stand a chance with that name, no matter how good it is.

    Joshua Dorkin’s last blog post..Hiding Your Real Identity when Participating in Social Media – Good or Bad?

  • Well, who ever thought Firefox would grow enough to challenge Internet Explorer? Who thought Apple would be able to make a comeback?

    Stranger things have happened.

  • Tim s

    I just tried Wolfram and it doesn’t really compete directly against google but does different stuff. If you want the square root of -2 to 50 places wolfram’s the place to go.. General search it doesn’t really do