Of course, you’ll probably recall that Google showed off this new spreadsheet-style search about three weeks ago. Now that it’s open to the public, we at Rev2 got a chance to check it out and see what it can do. While the fanfare around its announcement initially compared it to Wolfram Alpha and said it would revolutionize search, I think that’s a lot of hype.
Sure, I guess there’s going to be some use for this search style. Comparing roller coasters, as Alex does, or looking at real estate listings maybe. Mostly, though, it’s just kind of useless. It’s not very flexible and unless what you’re searching for is inherently able to be compartmentalized, it’s not very pleasant to see the results.
I’m with ReadWriteWeb when Marshall Kirkpatrick said that it’s inflexible, gives odd-looking results, and it’s hard to imagine using it regularly.
Most things I’ve searched for–even the ones that seem like they’d probably benefit from being columned into tables–didn’t come out anything like I’d hoped. Most were jumbled, almost irrelevant, and nearly all were confusing.
On the other hand, it might be a good start to something that will become infinitely useful. Were the searches better able to be narrowed and the interface more flexible in how you can move data around them, this could become extremely valuable. The icing on the cake might be an export ability–maybe XML or through an API.
One thing it does well right now is compare data that’s closely aligned to numbers. This makes sense, since spreadsheets are an accountant thing. Right? Looking for the latest certificate of deposit rates came up with some almost-useful results, but nothing that the aggregators that specialize in this kind of thing don’t already have.
Another search for WordPress themes yielded some OK output too. Still, nothing you can’t get from the thousands of sites that already do this (but better).
It does show that there is some promise to Google Squared. I just don’t think it will realize any useful potential for a while.