Microsoft Corp. made an announcement to buy San Francisco search company Powerset on Tuesday. Redmond-based Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) didn’t give a price, but media reports it is around $100 million. Powerset focuses on “natural-language search,” a form of artificial intelligence that seeks to understand the meaning of both user queries and Web pages.
Semantic or natural-language search relies on sentence structure, syntax, dictionaries, and thesauri to extract meaning from text, rather than relying on how heavily Web pages are linked to one another to determine the relevance of search results.
Barney Pell, one of Powerset’s co-founders, said joining Microsoft would give Powerset the scale it needs to extend its technology to the entire Web. Powerset’s approach to search requires enormous computing power.
“We know today that roughly a third of searches don’t get answered on the first search and first click. The reason is that today’s search engines don’t understand when similar concepts, like “shrub” and “tree,” are expressed in different words or phrases. In addition, some results can appear to be more relevant to computers than they actually are to humans. Powerset will help us address all of those problems and opportunities,” Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s senior vice president for search, product and advertising, wrote in a blog post today.
Still, it’s mostly an huge battle for Microsoft. The latest worldwide market share numbers from Web statistics firm Net Applications have Google with 78.35 percent of searchers in June, followed by Yahoo at 11.78 percent. In comparison, the combined share of Microsoft’s MSN Search and Live Search in the same time period totaled a mere 5.22 percent.
Source: BizjournalsFiled under Search Engine | Tags: Google, Microsoft, Natural-language-search, Powerset, Yahoo | Comment Below