When you are the top player in an arena, regardless of what that arena is, anytime something arises that is remotely similar to what you offer, talk of your downfall commences. That’s exactly what happened to Google when the new search platform Wolfram Alpha, touted as the Google killer, hit the Internet.
Though Wolfram Alpha may indeed offer some competition to Google when it comes to certain types of searches, it has never claimed to be a replacement for Google. Wolfram Alpha operates in a completely different way than the Google search engine. This innovation makes certain types of searches more efficient and others less so. In fact, Wolfram is not exactly a search engine at all.
The creators of Wolfram Alpha call their platform a “computational knowledge engine for the web.” Google works by simply searching the vast resources of the Internet searching for keywords and other indicators that seem to match the given search term. For simple searches this system not only works fairly well, but it’s also very fast. This makes Google a great asset for most types of simple searches. Unfortunately, more complex searches don’t always return relevant results. This is where Wolfram Alpha intends to shine.
Wolfram Alpha uses two features that tend to separate it from Google. The first is their proprietary database. When you enter a search term into the Wolfram Alpha engine, it first compares the search with their own database. If the term has been searched before and pertinent results found, the information will be available in the database. This tends to make Wolfram Alpha more efficient than Google on these types of searches.
The second feature is the one that lends the name computational to Wolfram and is the feature that makes it possible for Wolfram Alpha to go beyond the typical queries. When you post a query to Wolfram Alpha, it not only parses its own database and the Internet as a whole for relevant information, it can actually compute answers to queries by gathering information from multiple sources. This is accomplished using a complex mathematical algorithm.
While Wolfram Alpha doesn’t claim a desire to crush Google as the premier search leader, it’s likely that if the platform turns out to be as effective at complex searches as it promises to be, it will be a game changer. Google and similar search engines will continue to be necessary for simple searches that need to query websites rapidly, Wolfram Alpha will pave the way for going beyond typical queries and provide an alternative to the typical search mode.