924 searches a second

In December 2005 Google handled an average of 924 searches a second. It was 528/sec a year before. Every search is done against the content of some eight billion documents or so. I think that is rather impressive. All done on Linux machines.

In December ‘04 Google did three times more searches than MSN, a year later that ratio had changed to 4.4 times.
Summer 2004 Steve Ballmer had said:

“We don’t want to be a fast follower. If we’re not first, we’ll be a fast follower, but we really want to be first.”

Mick Jagger is know to have said: “You can’t always get what you want”

Numbers from Nielsen

When I was digging for those Ballmer quotes I read a couple of articles about Microsoft and search. They had the tone as if Microsoft and the world was taken by surprise by the success of search. It sometimes sounds as if search came out of nowhere. I think Microsoft decided consiously not to pay attention to search around 2000 when it should have. They probably underestimated the value that is out there on the internet in this uncontrollable heap of information and tools. Microsoft owns the PC operating system and office software market. They simply assumed that all the valuable content would be created within their domain. Therefor they would just need to go along, release a nice pace of updates for Office, Entourage and Windows and that would be that. The internet, so they thought, is something you browse for entertainment with IE in the lunch break. They won the browser war, so what could happen to them?

As confident as the Armada did they sail into this century. And they are sinking as fast as those spanish ships did 418 years ago. Their stock price is flat. They share with Sony the grief about not being part of the booming mp3 business. Longhorn is called Vista now. It’s ok, but the excitement is largely missing. Google just started the next phase of competition by replacing the functionality of Exchange with a free service of theirs. As a little side node here: Web pundits had speculated in vivid colors how there would be a web based word or excel product to challenge the dominating products made in Seattle. Of course it makes so much more sense to start with Microsoft Exchange. Email is, after all, already a network based system. So much for the collective wisdom of crowds.

Microsoft never anticipated that there could be a whole new use of computers that would have nothing to do with writing texts or doing spreadsheats. Microsoft got their lucky break from the lack of imagination and enthousiasm at IBM when it created the personal computer. Only few years of big blue being asleep at the steering wheel, gave Bill and his people enough time to become leader in this emerging field. And they made all the right moves to stay ahead of the game since then. The PC OS market has been domimated by Microsoft very much like IBM had been sucessfully leading the computation field before. IBM could not imagine that the PC that they started would change everything. Nor could Microsoft imagine that the internet would do it all over again.

Imagination is not very tangible. It’s lack however can cost you billions. And somehow it always does.

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