In his resent post, Daniel Tunkelang was cautiously optimistic about Google’s forays into HCIR, suggesting that Google’s “baby steps” are leading in the right direction. I agree that it would be a great innovation if Google weaned itself (or allowed its users the option) off the single ranked list precision-oriented search paradigm, and made it easier to explore the results in a variety of ways.
As things stand right now, Google’s core competency in the search space seems to be its indexing and ranking capability. Yet this is monetized only indirectly through ads. It seems to me that there is an opportunity here to add another source of revenue, this one based on search itself. I am certain there are quite a few startups out there that would rather spend a little cash every month for the right to run queries programmatically rather than building their own index. I know I would.