First things first – WolframAlpha is not a search engine – it’s a computational search engine.
Eat this: What’s integral of sin x/x?
Google falls flat when it comes to answering such questions (and one doesn’t feel lucky anymore) – while wolfram alpha does it so damn well! (look at srp for 1729)
Unlike other search engines, WolframAlpha doesn’t indexes the web pages and instead uses sophisticated algorithms to compute data and instead of returning results, it computes the answer.
The search engine, developed by well known mathematician, Stephen Wolfram is based on natural language processing, a large library of algorithms and uses NKS (i.e. ‘new kind of science’) approach to answering queries.
Is WolframAlph a Google Killer?
No. Not every search engine has to be positioned as a Google killer (cuil anyone?). What Wolfram does is that it proves an important point that search is still not a solved problem.
Google is being gamed (as of writing this post, search for chrome plugin takes me to to irrelevant pages – ideally google should have understood the query intent and showed me chrome extension results).
Google is still the most relevant search engine – but falls flat when you actually want to use it for any research purpose (as far as G is concerned, deep invisible web is still out of sight)
And that’s where vertical and contextual search engines matter (sad that Powerset was lapped up without showing any prowess, i.e. if it ever had).
What’s amazing about Wolfram Alpha?
To me, it’s a far better wikipedia, when it comes to researching factual data. Wikipedia gives you narrative information on the topic, while WolframAlpha is all factual (representation takes the cake).
The quality of information that the search engine provides isn’t being matched by Google or any other player.
Example: Look at India GDP
WolframAlpha, since it doesn’t indexes the web cannot answer the regular queries – but is still highly relevant when it comes to conducing research on factual data.
Will it be a mass hit?
No. And it is not meant to be. Not every search engine has to be Google (look at twitter, they took a completely different route and are now poking Google with it’s real time search power).
To me, this is a milestone in the world of search. Companies like Google will realize the shallow waters they are treading in.
Do give WolframAplha a spin. Download the search toolbar/addon/Vista sidebar/iGoogle gadget from here
What’s your opinion on Wolfram Alpha?
Word of caution – the site launch is still not over, and the company is fixing the jagged edges. Well, they have an interesting error screen too: