The title of Mike’s post was “Google Likes To Steal Other’s Thunder,” and he mentions several anecdotes to back up that idea. I was going to leave a comment on the post, but then Barry wrote about it at Search Engine Land, so I thought I’d go ahead and do a full blog post. I have actual knowledge (gasp!) of some of these incidents, so I can probably clear up a few misconceptions. Let’s walk through Mike’s anecdotes:
* This past Tuesday, Wolfram Alpha announces its structured data search product. On the same day, Google announced its new structured data product.
I wasn’t familiar with this one, so I dropped an email to Ola Rosling, the Googler employee who wrote the blog post announcement. It turns out that there’s a straightforward reason for the timing: the blog post was planned for a different day, but an early/unexpected baby arrival resulted in this blog post being rescheduled.
By the way, Wolfram|Alpha launches later this month and it sounds like a terrific idea. Any website that can blend large-scale data with the the processing power of something like Mathematica is just going to make the web a better place–I can’t wait to play with it.
* July 28, 2008, so called Google killer Cuil launched its search engine. It claimed that their index of 120B documents was 3x that of any search engine. Three days before though, Google announced it knew of 1 trillion URL’s.
I happened to be on the email thread that resulted in Google’s blog post, so I know that we passed one trillion urls seen and decided to do a blog post about it in early-to-mid June 2008, well over a month before Cuil launched and emphasized their index size.
* June 3, 2008, Wikia Search launched a feature that allows users to add and delete URL’s to search results. July 16, 2008, Google announced that it is bucket testing similar features. The features went live a few months later.
Sorry, but Google was testing our add/delete url feature months before Wikia. TechCrunch noticed Google’s add/delete feature as early as November 2007. Here’s an image of the feature from back in 2007:
* February 25, 2009, Cuil announced it is integrating longer snippets into its results. March 24, 2009, Google announced…you guessed it….longer snippets.
Sorry, but Google was doing longer snippets months before Cuil blogged about longer snippets. See for example this blog post from December 2008. Here’s an image from 2008:
Don’t get me wrong: I think Google can move quickly, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. But it doesn’t seem fair to say we’re trying to steal someone’s thunder if (for example) our longer snippets came first.