Wolfram Alpha Hasn’t Exactly Set the World on Fire

    July 29, 2009
    Chris Crum

Remember all of that hype earlier this year about Wolfram Alpha? Some called it a Google killer, although most bloggers writing about the subject could pretty clearly see that it was no such thing. That didn’t stop it from being a very highly touted product with lots of potential.

While Wolfram Alpha still certainly has its enthusiasts, it has not exactly taken the world by storm. In fact, in terms of unique visitors it had a very unimpressive launch, and since launch most of that buzz seems to have gone out the window, as unique visitors (according to Compete) have plummeted since.

Wolfram Alpha numbers in June

Earlier this month, Stan Schroeder of Mashable pointed out that at this point Wolfram Alpha isn’t even close to being in the same league with the "relatively minor player in the search game" Ask. And things don’t appear to be looking up based on Compete data (although to be fair, Ask has had like 13 years to get to where it’s at).

Why was there so much buzz over Wolfram Alpha, but now not so much? Users seem to generally like it. Could it be that ever-powerful Google brand? It’s probably the mentality that Google works pretty well, and users don’t really need it.

"Part of Wolfram Alpha’s problem could be its versatility," said Scrhoeder. "Before, when you needed to find out how much your daily calorie intake should be, you’d probably type “calorie calculator” into Google, and you’d get some specific tool that does that. Now, Wolfram Alpha does that and a zillion other things, but did you remember to use it, or did you just Google for whatever you needed like before?"

Whether or not it’s living up to its initial buzz, Woflram Alpha continues to crank away at getting better. You can read the blog and see what the Wolfram team’s been up to, and some interesting ways of using the tool.