Squaring up Google Squared

Another extension of the search metaphor. They have been coming thick and fast in the past few weeks. Wolfram Alpha, Bing and now Google Squared. G-squared is the latest entrant and given its pedigree, deserves to get a closer look.

G-squared is essentially a search aggregator, presenting results in a spreadsheet like format. It is like business intelligence reports graduating from being row based to cross-tab. The format lends itself very elegantly to comparisons, and the suggestions put out by Google lead you down that path. The grid is expandable by adding rows and columns, each coming with Google’s own suggestions. Considering each cell in the spreadsheet as a single search, the aggregation definitely boosts search productivity. The quality of the output of the cells is very questionable though. And for once – and I thought I will not live long enough to say this – Big G gets the context of the rows members wrong very often. For instance when I tried “Indian films”, this is what it returned

Squared

All results in the rows are not films. Satyajit Ray is a film director, while Juhi Chawla and Raveena Tandon (neither merit a place in the same grid as Satyajit Ray, who was a legend) are actresses. Agreed that G-squared is yet in the Labs but hasn’t Google set our expectations right up there?

Google squared allows one to build a grid from scratch. This is particularly useful if you know what you want in the grid and do not need a search to tell you that. I tried building a grid to check out the competition of Thomson Reuters, my employers. I was disappointed at what turned up but was ecstatic when under FactSet’s financials is said “Not healthy enough to buy yet” and was bemused when the same against Bloomberg said “Forecast? More Bull? More Bear?” (I wish it dropped the last question and terminated the second last one with just one full-stop). Is this Google’s way of countering the easter-eggs of Wolfram|Alpha?

Squared_comps

The question is bound to pop up. Is Google Squared the answer to Wolfram|Alpha. I think not. There is a difference between search (and its aggregation) and a artificial intelligence driven computational engine. Perhaps Google will encroach upon the Walpha territory, but time shall tell how that pans out.

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