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Google Unveils "Caffeine" Search Upgrade

Google usually likes to break its own news about its product upgrades and other matters via the company's official blog. Until recently, that might have been considered a type of "soft launch," but since so many people have a stake in keeping an eye on Google, posts to the blog site are routinely covered as industry news by journalists, bloggers, and media analysts.

Just to keep us guessing, every now and then the search giant instead lets its news leak out quietly, as if from a tiny hole in a big fat tire.

That's more or less what it's doing with Caffeine, which is the not-so-secret codename for its new search engine. Google is testing the engine with developers, saying it is "first step in improving the speed, accuracy and comprehensiveness of search results," according to a report by the BBC.

The impending release of Caffeine would seem to present a dilemma for Microsoft and its new search engine, Bing, which was launched with great fanfare (e.g., traditional PR, marketing and advertising spends) recently. Microsoft's clear goal is to muscle its way into a greater market share of the massive search ad revenue pie, which Google dominates by a wide margin.

Initial reviews indicate that Google is not touching its famously clean UI, but that under the hood, brand new algorithms will power the search results it delivers to users. News stories and other fresh content reportedly shows up higher via Caffeine, which also doubling the speed of Google searches, which are already lightning fast. Real-time search results, including social media posts from Twitter and elsewhere, are already showing up on Google, and are certainly a major new business everyone would like to own, especially now that Facebook has bought FriendFeed, the real-time search engine.

The danger for Bing isn't that it is can't be a good alternative to Google. The problem is that it apparently will not have enough time o convert any substantial share of users before Caffeine lures them right back to where most people started from -- at Google.

Thanks to Tamara Baltar for alerting me to the BBC report.