Scientific American writes: New search engines are improving the quality of results by delving deeper into the storehouse of materials available online, by sorting and presenting those results better, and by tracking your long-term interests so that they can refine their handling of new information requests. In the future, search engines will broaden content horizons as well, doing more than simply processing keyword queries typed into a text box. They will be able to automatically take into account your location--letting your wireless PDA, for instance, pinpoint the nearest restaurant when you are traveling. New systems will also find just the right picture faster by matching your sketches to similar shapes. They will even be able to name that half-remembered tune if you hum a few bars.
Future search services will not be restricted to conventional computing platforms. Engineers have already integrated them into some automotive mobile data communications (telematics) systems, and it is likely they will also embed search capabilities into entertainment equipment such as game stations, televisions and high-end stereo systems. Thus, search technologies will play unseen ancillary roles, often via intelligent Web services, in activities such as driving vehicles, listening to music and designing products.
Another big change in Web searching will revolve around new business deals that greatly expand the online coverage of the huge amount of published materials, including text, video and audio, that computer users cannot currently access.
Ironically, next-generation search technologies will become both more and less visible as they perform their increasingly sophisticated jobs Eventually it will be difficult for computer users to determine where searching starts and understanding begins.
Charles Ferguson in Technology Review: Until now, competition in the search industry has been limited to the Web and has been conducted algorithm by algorithm, feature by feature, and site by site. This competition has resulted in a Google and Yahoo duopoly. If nothing were to change, the growth of Microsofts search business would only create a broader oligopoly, similar, perhaps, to those in other media markets. But the search industry will soon serve more than just a Web-based consumer market. It will also include an industrial market for enterprise software products and services, a mass market for personal productivity and communications software, and software and services for a sea of new consumer devices. Search tools will comb through not only Microsoft Office and PDF documents, but also e-mail, instant messages, music, and images; with the spread of voice recognition, Internet telephony, and broadband, it will also be possible to index and search telephone conversations, voice mail, and video files All these new search products and services will have to work with each other and with many other systems. This, in turn, will require standards.