Web-Scale Search Capabilities
While web-scale is the so-called "wave of the future" when it comes to search engines -- and, in fact, they cannot operate without web-scale -- Google remains the standard-bearer.
ASSUMPTIONS AND METHODOLOGY
Because Google is considered the standard-bearer of web-scale capabilities, any other search engine would be compared to Google, and it would inevitably come up short (especially if, like Yandex, they are hyper-local). Google is considered the top search engine because it holds 87% of the global market share. The top four search engines are rounded out by Bing with 5.11% of the global market, Yahoo with 3.94%, and Baidu with 0.87%. These figures were based on the global market share from 2010-2017. Other search engines like AOL, ASK.com. WolframAlpha, DuckDuckGo, and Yandex were included because they round out the majority of the top 10 search engines.
WEB SCALE -- THE TOP FOUR SEARCH ENGINES
Because Google exists on a global scale, their offerings are infinitely greater than other search engines. Features that they offer include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:
1. Basic searches
2. Rich searches (which include styles, images, and other sundry results that provide the user with a comprehensive overview of their query).
3. Enriched searches (which provide a more interactive result)
4. Knowledge graph (which takes its layout from schema.org and looks like an encyclopedia entry)
5. Carousel (which provides multiple rich search results)
Google, of course, also has a proprietary mobile search app. Users on both mobile and desktop can access search results based on content type and enhancements. Content type shows users results based on whether their search is related to an event, a news article etc. Enhancements show users features like review stars associated with their search.
This search engine allows users to access their search history across devices as long as the user is logged into their Google account.
Google also provides a "crisis response service" that features a missing person tool that people can use to find one another during emergencies.
Yahoo, meanwhile, offers both responsive design results (which, according to LifeWire, is "mobile web-enabled sites") and targeted local results. Yahoo also has a mobile app dedicated to searches and email. Their app has a minimal design and allows users to search hands-free by voice. In the US, users can access a combined map and list view for local searches. The app also suggests keywords and provides a "safe search" mode. People can search by video, travel, and subscription search that gives users access to information that search engines don't typically access.
This search engine offers an "extensive gallery of mobile widgets." These widgets include platforms like eBay, MTV news, Flickr, and other widgets related to news, e-mail, sports, weather, jobs, finance, and more. Yahoo also offers an "online bookmark organizer." It's important to note that, as of 2011, Yahoo's search capabilities are powered by Bing.
Bing, which is owned by Microsoft and commands about 5% of the market share, also has a mobile app dedicated to searches, and according to their Android app description, they also offer a proprietary "Bing Rewards" program which the user can then redeem for gift cards at various retailers, including Amazon and Starbucks.
Bing users can search by barcodes as well as by voice and photos. The barcode scanner allows users to save money through price comparison. Searching by voice can trigger regular web results or can also generate search results for songs. In 2016, Bing released updates to their iOS and Android apps that added: "new music and video features, along with more map options." In terms of music, the app played soundless videos "directly in search results with the lyrics" displayed below and listed trending songs and artists.
Users were able to add films to their watch lists on Amazon Prime or Netflix from the movie section in Bing's app. The update also allowed users to designate which map app they preferred, access a "reading mode" for news pages, and see their search history across their "logged-in devices."
Baidu is China's largest search engine, and as such, is used by millions of people a day. According to Alexa, Baidu is ranked fourth and serves billions of searches a month. It contains many similarities to Google -- and it even offers a dedicated mobile search app. In China, mobile users are more important than desktop users because mobile is "most people’s first and only portal to the online world."
This search engine has their own version of Google's accelerated mobile pages (AMP) called mobile instant page (MIP). This puts an emphasis on the importance of mobile and the weight it has on Baidu's search engine algorithm. In 2016, Baidu announced that it would incorporate artificial intelligence into its biggest apps, including its "mobile search engine, which has hundreds of millions of users. This kind of base-level integration could mean that AR becomes a part of daily life for many." Baidu will rely on a platform called DuSee to use smartphone hardware to get an understanding of real-life 3D environments.
WEB-SCALE: SMALLER SEARCH ENGINES WITH A LESSER OR NON-EXISTENT MARKET SHARE
ASK.com was once known as Ask Jeeves and was one of the first search engines on the mainstream internet. This search engine accounts for 0.05% of the market share and also has a mobile app. ASK.com will return search results if the user types in a "natural" voice, i.e., question/answer format. This platform also provides "traditional keyword searching" and strives to be more user-friendly and intuitive than its competitors. However, it hasn't kept up with the times and has returned search results that have been less than optimal.
This search engine "utilizes technology from teoma.com which clusters websites according to topic communities, using unique technology which" ASK.com calls ExpertRank. ExpertRank allows users to, also access sites related to the term "ozone layer" while searching using the term "global warming."
One of the first companies to ever offer "commercial" internet services, AOL is a so-called "old time favorite" that now includes web properties like HuffingtonPost.com. It commands about 0.04% of the market, and it's still considered one of the most popular websites in the world. AOL offers a mobile search app that allows users to search for localized information like the weather, trending news, and various interest topics. The app also offers alerts.
As of 2016, AOL is powered by Bing which includes AOL's "web, mobile and tablet search." Bing also provides "paid search ads and algorithmic organic search results to AOL properties worldwide and exclusively in" Australia, Canada, the US, and the UK.
WolframAlpha is not a search engine, proper, but rather a "computational knowledge engine." What this means is that the user will receive their answers in numerical format, thus equating WolframAlpha to a calculator more than a traditional search engine. WolframAlpha offers a mobile search app that provides the "definitive source for instant expert knowledge and computation." Aspects of WolframAlpha are used in Apple's Siri. This platform uses an extensive selection of algorithms to understand questions and generate reports.
The domains covered by this platform include math, physics, data analysis, statistics, materials, engineering, astronomy, chemistry, earth science, life science, computational science, units, measures, dates, times, weather, places, geography, people, history, culture, media, music, transportation and more.
DuckDuckGo is a newer search engine that doesn't track its users, which is something that those who are concerned with privacy can take as a positive. Its "clean" interface -- that is, an interface that isn't cluttered with advertisements -- make it appealing to those who simply want quick results. Unlike Google, ads are generated based on search terms rather than a particular user's search history. This search engine only generates one page of search results. DuckDuckGo offers a mobile search app that, according to a company representative, "moves beyond the search box and protects your privacy wherever you go on the Internet." This app is the first on the market to offer tracker blocking, private search, and smarter encryption "across all major platforms." Other features include forced HTTPS and blocking some display ads.
Yandex is a search engine that isn't as well-known in the United States, but it commands about 65% of the Russian market share and is ranked in the top 30 websites in the world, according to Alexa.com. Like Google, it offers proprietary e-mails with a yandex.ru extension. Yandex offers a mobile search app that allows users to search by image, voice, and text. Users benefit from "predictive search" suggestions and the ability of Yandex to decipher songs. Search topics covered by this platform include current traffic, currency exchange rates, breaking news, weather forecast, recipes, TV listings, movies and more. Yandex provides users answers only in "Russian, Ukrainian and Turkish." The app also has a built-in scanner that reads QR codes.
Any and all search engines -- whether new or existing -- must look to Google as the standard-bearer, especially when concerning web-scale search capabilities. As the global market trends towards mobile platforms, apps that are dedicated strictly to web-scale search capabilities will become more commonplace, to the point that even search engines that command no significant market share will offer a proprietary app.