The Convergence of the Email-Search Engine Divide: Gmail and Google
Amit Singhal, Google’s Senior Vice-President of Google Search, placed a post on the Official Google Blog entitled “Building the search engine of the future, one baby step at a time” in which he outlined and expanded upon three key points of working towards a “Star Trek-like” computer able to answer any question: 1. Understanding the world; 2. Putting your info at your fingertips; and, 3. Understanding your intent. The purpose here is to focus on Mr. Singhal’s second key point.
Google is offering a test trial for a limited number (up to 1 million out of a total 425 million) of users on “Gmail for personal search results” who sign up through Google’s Search Experiments website. This new searching tool will work for those test users who sign in to their Google account and link web results with email content shown on the right-hand side of regular search results; for example, email confirmation of recent online purchases would show up when searching for those retailers’ websites online.
Some have raised privacy concerns about the release of personal information from Gmail into Google Search results. Some might feel discomfort over a lack of delineation between private email and public searching and could decide to opt out. Google/Gmail users would have to belong initially to the test trial and then sign into their accounts to enable the link between Gmail content and Google searching. The intent is to expand the feature to all Google/Gmail users and integrate other Google services such as Calendar and Docs/Drive. Mr. Singhal expressed a willingness to work with other email providers if they were interested. However, a critical alternative suggested by Chris Morran of the Consumerist would be to offer pan-Google account searching from within Gmail as people have come to expect privacy from within an email service rather than a Google search from the browser’s navigation bar.
Other sources such as PCWorld and the Associated Press reminded readers of the Google Buzz case from 2010 in which the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ordered Google to ameliorate privacy controls and undergo audits for 20 years following Gmail’s accidental exposure of personal data onto Google Buzz, the company’s first attempt at establishing a social networking service before the advent of Google Plus.
Google’s integration of Gmail and Google Search is another initiative by the search engine giant to personalize results and make them of increasing relevance to users in order to head off competition from Bing, Facebook and others.
Next time, we will take a look at another key point of Amit Singhal…