Search, Social, And Aggregation - InformationWeek

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5/24/2010
06:31 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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Search, Social, And Aggregation

Google all but admitted last week that the dominant forms of content discovery -- search and social networking -- aren't enough.

Google all but admitted last week that the dominant forms of content discovery -- search and social networking -- aren't enough.The company said that it planned to build a Web app store to make Web apps easier to discover and monetize. It plans to sell music through its online store too.

Search was supposed make content discoverable, but it's only a partial solution. Search only helps you if you know what you're looking for.

Social networking was supposed to fill in the gaps. Your friends were supposed to become content suppliers, but their tweets and likes and shares don't necessarily meet your informational needs. What they push isn't necessarily the content you'd pull.

And really, social networking isn't about helping you. It's about helping advertisers target you.

So we're back to aggregation. The model that Yahoo rode to riches in the '90s, the model that news publishers maligned in the '00s as Google News took off, it turns out to be both useful and profitable.

Apple certainly has done well with iTunes, though more because Apple customers agree that iTunes is the one and only store for their devices than because iTunes makes it easier to find quality content than a Google search of the Internet. (In fact, iTunes has become less useful as its inventory has exploded, though it's still preferable from a trust standpoint that a random Web site.)

Even Mozilla, which tends to be on the cutting edge of technology and on the lagging edge of commerce, seems see something appealing in the idea of an App Store. "[W]e've been actively exploring what an Open Web App Store would need to look like to ensure the long-term health and vitality of the Web as an incredibly open and accessible platform for innovation," the company said in a blog post last week.

Expect to see more App Stores because aggregation is a necessary defense against information overload. There's value created in acts of review, selection, arrangement, and presentation. Apple, Google, and Mozilla see this. And Amazon is already part of the way there, with its online downloads. Surely, it's planning something of the sort of mobile and Web apps.

Perhaps some news publishers recognize this too. That may mean that individual news brands decline. But there are too many to keep track of anyway.

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