Google has finally commented on the Search Plus Your World debate. A couple of weeks ago, Google debuted a significantly changed version of its search engine which included Google+, meaning identity, content from users and their friends, brand pages and so on, into search.
Most people have been highly critical of the move and argued that it reduced relevancy, added features that people didn't need, worked as a promotional tool for Google+ and that Facebook, Twitter and so on were left out.
All the time, Google kept quiet. Some of the criticism blew over, but not entirely, people are still talking about it now.
Finally, Google has come out on the record and commented on some of the issues. Google's head of search, Google Fellow Amit Singhal answered
some of the concerns and some of the questions people had.
He started by saying that, while the feature was criticized by the press and by bloggers, regular users liked it. In fact, feedback had been better than expected and far less users complained than they did when Google introduced other big features.
He also said that real users liked the integration of personal results, from Google+, into their searches. However, he believes it's hard to judge the quality of the new features on the whole, since the experience is so personal.
Some users may find the results highly relevant, others may not get any value from them. This is where the ability to switch to non-personalized results probably comes in.
As for the big criticism, that Google+ was being favored while everyone else was excluded, Singhal tried to explain that, for what Google has in mind for Search Plus Your World, the company would need deals with Twitter, Facebook and everyone else.
He argued that this is just the first iteration of the product. Even though some of its current features could include public data from other sites, Google plans to further develop them and make them increasingly personal.
But in order to do this, it needs access to identity information and, even more so, it needs access to relationship data.
What's more, Google needs solid, lasting deals. It got burned with Twitter when it couldn't come to an agreement for access to the full firehose. As a result, an entire Google Search feature, real-time search, had to be scrapped. Singhal says Google is not willing to repeat that, so if it does come to an agreement with other companies, they are going to be long-term ones.
Google did manage to answer some of the questions. And the argument that the features are incomplete and that, for what it has in mind, it really does need more than public data, is somewhat valid, though it will have to be proven in time.
What is clear though is that Google won't be adding Facebook or Twitter data any time soon. What's more, it's not going to back down on Search Plus Your World and other similar features that are no doubt coming, unless it sees a major backlash, which it isn't.