Jean Véronis

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mardi, septembre 27, 2005

Google: Mystery index

For a while now, I've been wondering when Google would get around to announcing its new index size, which rose dramatically in early September while the search engine's home page stayed stuck at just over 8 billion (see here and here). Well, it seems that today we got our answer. Google had something up its sleeve for its 7th birthday -- but it wasn't quite what we expected: the usual mention of the index size is now gone!

I wasn't too far off with my guess that the index size would be multiplied by 2.7. Google has confirmed this (Reuters). However, at the same time, the company decided that from now on it is no longer going to announce any figure at all, and simply says that its index is bigger than those of its competitors (Anna Patterson has more to say about this on the Google blog). Of course, one can't help but think of Yahoo!, whose announcement of 19.2 billion indexed pages caused quite a stir some weeks ago. Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said in a phone interview with CNET that Google will stop providing the number of indexed pages "because people don't necessarily agree on how to count it". I surely agree with that! I have even amply demonstrated that a given engine can have both more pages... and more junk (see here and here).

The 27th of September 2005 will surely go down in history as a turning point in the search engine war. These same search engines now want to rely on their users to form their own comparative judgements. Well, fair enough. Except for the fact that this is extremely difficult even for experts, as regular readers of this blog will have noticed -- and of course impossible for the average internet user. So, we will end up staying with whatever search engine we're used to. Google or Yahoo? It reminds me of the machine or programming language wars (Mac or PC, C++ or VB?). But don't worry, if it's pages about Britney Spears that you are looking for, or if you're trying to find the Yellow Pages [fr], any search engine will do!

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