Thursday, 4 June 2009

Bing arrives, Google Waves.

In the same week that Microsoft has beta-launched its own Google rival, known as 'Bing' - officially described as a 'decision engine' as opposed to a 'search engine' - Google has nudged ahead again with the announcment of two new innovative products.

Grabbing most of the column inches has been Google Wave, a new social media platform which will sit somewhere between Twitter and email as a messaging and collaboration platform. It's not available to play with yet and no-one's really sure what it is and what it will do... but they're pretty sure that it will have a major impact on the way we connect with friends, family, customers and colleagues.

Adopting a slightly lower profile, sneaking out of the back door via Google Labs but available to try right now is Google Squared. Always keen to share new ideas with the world, the Google Labs team release products relatively early on in their development in order to capture input from real-life users across the globe. Google Squared sounds a little lumpy, but comes to life when you try to use it. It is basically a tool to enable you to carry out and collate research very quickly, presented in a spreadsheet-style format, on any given subject. For example, a search on UK Banks, quickly presents you with a neat summary of all of the major players including logos, description, locations, employee numbers, revenue. Missing banks are easily added and more obscure overseas subsidiaries just as quickly removed. Hover over any cell and it will reveal the source of the data and allow you to click through for more.

Results are not perfect, several fields tend to be blank and findings can be inconsistent, but to get you mobilised at the start of a new research project it could save hours of trawling around separate stand-alone corporate websites trying to piece together the basics. It's always easier to fill in the gaps than to start from scratch.

It's not all work, work, work though. I tried searching for 'Smith's lyrics', 'UK Birds' & 'Booker Prize' all with fascinating results.

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