Daniel Tunkelang continues to raise provocative and interesting questions over on his blog. I would like to point readers to the comments section of a recent post. In one of my own comments there, I raise a question about ad-supported web search engines (as typified by, though by no means limited to, Google) and their willingness and ability to switch business models. In particular, I express the following consternation:
Would Google ever go for the freemium model? Give basic search away for free (ad supported) for those who don’t care about mediocre information. But then open up and allow (not force, but allow!) other users to pay for additional exploratory, informational, and useful search services. I consider it a real indictment against Google that they don’t allow me to pay, even if I wanted to. And that’s part of the reason why I believe that the ad-supported model is not good (untenable) in the long run. Google is completely unwilling to entertain the idea of providing a service to me that is free of the biases and limitations imposed upon it by its advertisers. Google therefore chooses to stay in the lowest common denominator category, giving trivia answers to trivia questions, and not encouraging or enabling any deeper, exploratory, informational thought. In my mind, Google is not that different from Fox News.
Am I wrong? Am I right? Am I completely missing the point? Sometimes I truly wonder, as most of my views on this matter are in the extreme minority. Most folks seems content with the current advertising basis of web search services, and see no reason or need for change.