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May 10, 2006

Google Press Day

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We were duped. We all assumed Marissa Mayer’s health-related slip of the tongue meant Google Health was making its debut during today’s Press Day. But we were wrong. Instead, Google introduced us to Google Co-op, Google Desktop 4, Google Notebook and Google Trends. Half of them aren’t even launching today. I feel deceived.

While the new toys are fun, they all seem rather superficial to me. But, judge them for yourselves:

Google Co-op – Available next week, Google Co-op sounds like a tagging social search to me. The service lets users subscribe to sites selected by self-proclaimed industry experts to help ‘improve search relevancy’. For example, Doctor Search can recommend that a certain page from the Centers for Disease Control appear above the search results if someone types in the term ‘flu’. Users can then subscribe to receive Doctor Search’s favorite sites, which will include the page from the CDC. Google thinks the feature will broaden the online community and aid in the knowledge transfer process. I’m not sure what it’s going to do, but I definitely don’t think it’ll do that.

Google Co-op currently includes topics related to health (this is where Google Health rumors started), destination guides, autos and other topics.

Google Desktop – The newly released version of Google Desktop allows users to sync their personalized settings across various computers. That means no matter where you log in from, Google will remember all your customized preferences and to-do lists. I don’t understand why it didn’t already do this. Isn’t that the point of logging in, it remembers you?

Google Desktop 4 also includes Google Gadgets, which boasts fun widgets like Google Calendar, Weather Globe (visually very cool) and Google Video. And network users may be glad to know the new version of Desktop allows them to opt out of the Search Across Computers feature for the entire network. No more Google world domination!

Google Notebook – Still unreleased, Google Notebook is a personal browser tool that lets users clip text, images and links from pages they’re searching and save them in an online notebook that can be shared with others. Any notes you make will show up when you revisit that site. Purpose? I’m not sure.

Google Trends — To me, the coolest thing released today! Google Trends tracks user search behavior (search volume, news volume, etc) by taking up to five user-defined terms and comparing to see how many times they were searched for and how often they appeared in Google News stories. The data can also be broken down by city, region or language.

Doing a search for ‘Red Sox, Yankees’ shows that even on the Web it’s a cutthroat battle. Though it’s making me really like the fine folks of Providence who search for the Red Sox (good) almost three times as much as they search for the Yankees (evil).

One could also use Good Trends for an unofficial Battle of the Search (or Ask Jeeves vs. Ask.com battle!). You may be surprised to find out who’s leading the back in terms of volume. Hint: It’s definitely not Google. And while I prefer to use it for amusing frivolous searches, I suppose marketers could use it see which terms are more popular for various cities, regions or languages during customizable time periods, but where’s the fun in that? Not that we would advise you to base important marketing decisions on this rather silly tool. Instead let’s see how many other teams the Red Sox can beat!

For more information about Google Press Day, users can view the webcast or head over to Matt Cutts’ blog. That man must have superhuman typing abilities; I’ve never seen such a detailed recap from someone writing it as it happens. Someone send over the Google doctor to check and make sure he’s okay.

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