A lot has been written about Google trying to capture the second-click:
the age-old conflict that Google faces between being a pure navigation service – “We get you where you want to go” – and being a media company – “We get you to our properties, where we make more money if you stay.”
Now take a look at a Techcrunch interview with Eric Schmidt:
So I don’t know how to characterize the next 10 years except to say that we’ll get to the point – the long-term goal is to be able to give you one answer, which is exactly the right answer over time. Okay, you know, the question I’ll ask today, how many Americans have – what percentage of Americans have passports?…The Google’s answer was a site, which was somebody who had attempted to answer that question and had multiple answers. It’s quite interesting actually to read…So you go to a very good definitive site. And what I’d like to do is to get to the point where we could read his site and then summarize what it says, and answer the question…Along with the citation and so forth and so on.
This would take Google beyond the second click and make them the ultimate destination (and a lot closer to what Wolfram Alpha is trying to be).
Google already has to deal with complaints – and litigation – from third party content providers arguing that Google piggy-backs on their content without providing an adequate return. Today Google can argue that the return they provide is driving traffic to third party sites. The more Google captures users beyond the second click, the less they will be able to credibly make this defence, and the more these complaints – and this litigation – will increase.
(On a side-note, an interesting article on search engines, their tendency to monopoly, and what the policy response might be: Is Google the next Microsoft? Competition, Welfare, and regulation in internet search, Rufus Pollock, April 2009.)