Internet search engines, with Google leading the way, offer rich opportunities to spin digital straw into gold.
By Roger Ewing
What Are We Searching For?
According to Piper Jaffrey, a U.S. investment banking firm, the global internet search environment looks something like this.
- 20% of all searches are for entertainment information.
- 15% are commercial.
- 65% are informational.
Much of the informational searches could easily be considered commercial. BIA/Kelsey, a leading provider of strategic research, analysis, data and competitive metrics, indicates that 25% to 35% of all searches are local, and most of those are commercial, looking for a restaurant for example.
Interestingly, internet penetration in the United States is somewhere north of ten times the average for the rest of the world. However, far more searches are done internationally than in the US, by a factor of about five to one. What does this tell us?
When the entire world has complete access to the internet, Search may well become the most important activity involving humankind.
The Speed of Information
Researchers Hal Varian and Peter Lyman, two economists at UC Berkeley, calculated our total global information production for one year. In their study “How much information?” they measured the total production of all unique information channels in the world for two different years, 2000 and 2003.
Their research revealed a mind numbing 66% rate of growth in information per year. Roughly 3.5 exabytes!
According to Wikipedia as of May 2009, the size of the World’s total Digital content has been roughly estimated to be 500 billion gigabytes, or 500 exabytes. There is clearly no shortage of digital straw.
What’s An Exabyte?
In case you were wondering, an exabyte is a unit of information, or computer storage, equal to one quintillion or 1 followed by 18 zeros (1,000,000,000,000,000,000) bytes.
Let’s just say it’s a really big-ass number, but not as big as a googol, which is 1 followed by a hundred zeros. Stanford graduate students Larry Page and Sergey Brin took creative liberties when they named their company Google.