Can Jelly ever really pose a threat to Google?


An analysis of the ground realities of Biz Stone’s vision of building ‘the Search Engine’ for the current world!

Much has been written and spoken about Jelly and Biz Stone’s vision of building the next world’s search engine and an empathetic world! Some have criticized it heavily, others have described it as extremely confusing. My goal in this post is not to analyze Jelly in it’s current form but instead analyze the vision of building a new search engine. So before I begin on the analysis, here’s some facts that prove how ‘the Novel Idea’ as described by Biz is not really novel at all:

  1. The one word term for Biz’s vision for Search would be ‘Semantic Search’. Semantic Search is not at all a new thing, it’s been talked about since almost a decade now. Infact Google itself made a huge stride forward in that domain by launching Humming Bird. Others like Quora also have acknowledged that almost 30% of their traffic comes from semantic search!
  2. The whole notion of using pictures to ask questions is also not really being done for the first time. In my mind the pioneer of this was The Hunt. The below screenshot describes how they do it.

Now getting back to my analysis, as far as I understand and foresee the future, Jelly lies in the intersection of Visual Search and Semantic Search. In crude way, it can be called as ‘Quora with Visual Search’! So to complete this analysis we need to look at these two components separately:

  1. Semantic Search: I think the credit should go to Siri for making Semantic search a hot thing today. Search inherently is a query or question. But when you are made to type it, you would rather not type the entire question but only the keywords. However with voice that’s not the case. And products like Quora and StackOverflow have demonstrated that direct answers can indeed be the solution to search queries instead of throwing up a billion websites.
  2. Visual Search: Visual Search has also been around for more than a decade but nobody has perfected it yet. Now I fundamentally believe that Visual Search will pick up someday, because there are a ton of things in the world which even voice can’t really describe. Imagine yourselves describing a piece of art or costume, your description can never be totally appropriate. It’ll always be incomplete and hence the search results would never be right!

I think it’s hightime that Google realized that throwing up a billion results for a search string doesn’t solve the user’s problems. Instead it causes so much wastage of user’s time. Most queries performed by people are direct questions which can have only one or two correct answers. But at the same time Jelly in it’s current format is causing too much of junk to be created! I see user’s being totally confused on what the hell they are supposed to ask? But the bottom-line is whether or not Jelly would be the ‘future’s search engine’, semantic visual search is going to be there and it would be used by tons of people all over the world!

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