Wolfram Alpha, the computational search engine, had a soft launch on Friday. While some are calling this a Google killer, I personally think the two engines will complement each other and allow for information to be served depending on your needs. Wolfram Alpha provides me with some capabilities that Google did not, i.e. the ability to ask the engine a question and have it compute an answer (think the computer on Star Trek).
Depending on my context, these search engines can provide me with valuable different perspectives on the question: What is the population of Metro Atlanta?
Google’s answer: Links to Wikipedia and other sources which is useful if I want to cite a source in a blog or a paper.
Wolfram Alpha’s Answer: 4.565 million people, which is extremely useful when my father calls me and expects me to recite this number from memory.
It becomes even more useful when you need to compare the financial data of two or more companies, say Coca-Cola (KO) and Pepsi (PEP). Simply typing the two stock tickers brings up all sorts of useful financial data on recent trades, market caps, volatility, revenue per employee, etc. You can even download the data as a PDF.