Google buys Metaweb, chases more complicated search

There is no word yet on whether Microsoft will continue to use Metaweb in Bing

Google on Friday said it acquired Metaweb, a company that maintains a database of information that it offers to website operators wishing to aggregate content about specific topics on their sites.

The companies did not reveal the purchase price.

As is typical with Google acquisitions, Metaweb said it plans to support existing customers but won't take new ones while it integrates with Google.

It will be interesting to see whether Google rival Microsoft continues to use Metaweb. According to Metaweb, Bing uses Metaweb to provide Instant Answers in its search results and in visual search. The Instant Answers feature displays answers to questions at the top of the Bing search results page, before the results listing.

Microsoft did not immediately reply to a request for confirmation about its relationship with Metaweb or its intentions following the acquisition.

Google said it believes Metaweb can help it offer better answers to more complex questions that people pose to search engines. Google can offer answers to factual queries such as "Barack Obama's birthday" because it understands facts about real people and events, Jack Menzel, director of product management at Google, wrote in a blog post about the acquisition.

But searches for phrases such as "colleges on the west coast with tuition under $30,000" are more difficult to respond to, he said. "These are hard questions, and we've acquired Metaweb because we believe working together we'll be able to provide better answers," he said.

Current Metaweb products include embeddable information boxes on any topic that customers can add to their websites or blog posts, a tool that lets website operators query certain content sources, such as Twitter and Hulu, and custom data feeds.

Metaweb also hosts an open database called Freebase that contains information about 12 million people, places and things. Anyone can contribute to the database and anyone can license it, using the data on their own sites.

Google said it plans to continue to maintain Freebase as a free and open database and expects to further develop it.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags business issuesmergers & acquisitionsGoogleMetawebMicrosoftinternetsearch engines

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?