Space Ramblings

Microsoft Jettisons its Book Search

It’s a done deal now. After scanning three quarters of a million books and 80 million journal articles, Microsoft is jettisoning its whole book search thing as another bad idea. Of course Microsoft isn’t actually saying that, instead there is a whole lot of business speak involved, but what it comes down to is that it’s done.

The problem with Microsoft is that it’s busy acting like a corporation, trying to compete by imitating the market leader and that doesn’t work. Google dived into book search so Microsoft dived into book search. Book search didn’t really pay off for Google, so Microsoft took a second look, realized it’s competing in a non-competitive arena and is now moving on. Stupid.

For Google, Book search made sense and Google Books, despite its accompanying controversies remains a useful research tool. But then Google’s core demographic is the sort of people who are passionate about Google and driven to embrace things like Google Books, both inside and outside Google. For Microsoft Book Search was supposed to build its search business, but the feasibility of that just isn’t there and it isn’t cost effective to generate content that way. Microsoft got that but it hasn’t gotten the bigger picture. While Google is aiming to expand its index, Microsoft is engaging in publicity stunts like Cashback, itself a view of the web rooted in the late 90’s, and flailing around.

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