Matt Eichner, head of enterprise search for Google (News - Alert), recently attended an enterprise search conference, and while he was out there let slip an important tidbit for those businesses who want their search capability to be a little more like Apple's (News - Alert). Specifically, Eichner dropped hints that Google was looking to add voice recognition to their enterprise search appliance.
While Google's enterprise search appliance already offers plenty of solid features for businesses, like integration with a variety of enterprise applications, support for a host of security mechanisms like single-sign on capability, scalability to support billions of documents and 220 different file types within those billions of documents, there's no denying that Google's search capabilities have been somewhat overshadowed by the Wolfram Alpha (News - Alert)-powered beta app juggernaut that is Apple's Siri.
But Eichner in turn made hints that there would be some expansion of the Google search appliance, possibly in light of that recent release from Apple. More specifically, Eichner said that, since more and more enterprise search functions were coming to mobile devices, Google in turn was starting to think about adding voice recognition capabilities of its own to its own lineup of mobile devices. Not just phones, either, but also tablets and the like.
On the surface, this makes sense. Of course, there's the obvious element of Apple's Siri driving some of this, but then there's also the ability to do this online. Since voice search can be had through more standard online channels, why not bring it to mobile? While the exact value of such a service is subjective at best--analyst Peter Chadha calls it more of a "nice to have" for businesses, meaning it's scarcely crucial but has more than a few potential uses, especially the farther down the line we go. Google's also eager to make the enterprise search experience more like the consumer search experience as well.
Two separate developments power this possible trend: one, Google is looking to enter the tablet market with an upcoming seven inch tablet, making this the first time they've been seen as anything more than an operating systems provider in the tablet space. Two, Siri is doing a number on the search space, and that's representing potential losses for Google on several fronts. Thus, Google augmenting its search system with voice recognition not only provides a value-add for the tablets, but also for the search in general, and that gives Google more strength against its competitors.
While it's not yet a foregone conclusion that Google will step into this market space, it's a fair bet that, at some point, users will soon be telling Google what they want to see on their search engines.
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