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Remember "20 billion documents indexed"?

October 31, 2010 1 comment

In the past several months, Apple and Google spent a lot of energy declaring how many iOS or Android devices they have been activating every month.

It went sort of like this: In May, at Google I/O, Google announced it was activating 100,000 Android units a day. By June, that number had jumped to 160,000. And in August, CEO Eric Schmidt, announced Android activations were up to 200,000 units a day.
Obviously Steve Jobs didn’t like it that much. So in his last public appearance, he announced that Apple actually activating 230,000 new iOS devices a day. Steve also spent good amount of time, questioning Google’s methodology of counting in the first place.

The truth is, Google is not new to the “counting” party. Back in 2003-2005, Google and Yahoo spent a lot of time arguing who has more documents indexed in their respective search engines. Since I was part of Yahoo search back then, I have fond memories of counting documents on our respective home pages (and questioning each other methodologies in the process).

I think it started with a “1B documents indexed”, and then went to 2, 4, 8… Then Yahoo proclaimed that they have 20 billion documents, and Google spokesperson responded right away with:

“Our scientists are not seeing the increase claimed in the Yahoo! index. The data we have doesn’t support the 19.2 (billion page) claim and we’re confused by that.”

And that was followed with Google declaring that they have 3x number of documents than Yahoo, and the whole thing is silly anyway. So Google removed the index docs numbers from their homepage all together. To which Yahoo responded with:

“We congratulate Google on removing the index size number from its homepage and recognizing that it is a meaningless number. As we’ve said in the past, what matters is that consumers find what they are looking for and we invite Google users to compare their results to Yahoo! Search at http://search.yahoo.com.”

I would predict that Apple / Google recent numbers exchanges will end up similarly pretty soon. And one of them would declare that they actually only care about consumer experience.

In any case, it provides some level of entertainment in the meantime.

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