Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Two More "Google Killers" Take Aim: Viewzi and Site605

As Google continues to dominate the search market despite recent hiccups, still more competitors emerge. Two recent entrants to the alternative search engine space are Site605 (the brainchild of Bob Chandra and a partner who apparently really don't think much of Jason Calcanis) and Viewzi, a new visual search engine.

Stepping on the search giant's toes is certainly nothing new. Aaron Goldman recently wrote a nice series on Google killers, more Google killers, and Even More Not-So-Natural-Born Google Killers on the Search Insider blog. And of course Charles Knight at AltSearchEngines devotes his blog entirely to this topic—see his take on these new contenders in Site605.com Serving Search with Man & Machine and Stealth Report: Viewzi - It’s All About the Viewz!.

So how do these new entrants stack up? First, it's important not to compare them, as Site605 and Viewzi have very different approaches and purposes.

Site605 is attempting to combine the power and scalability of algorithmic search (Google, Yahoo etc.) with the intelligence and judgment of human editors (like Mahalo) without the spam that inevitably seems to afflict social search sites like Digg and Sphinn (think Wikipedia—though hopefully without the arrogance).

The challenge in executing that model is the breadth of search phrases that can be encapsulated. A purely algorithmic search engine can handle any one of the nearly infinite combinations of words that can be assembled into a search phrase; a human-powered or even hybrid site like Site605 will necessarily be limited to a list of what someone deems the most popular searches. The results can be head-scratching; for example, Site605 includes entries like Recipe For Pickled Eggs and Dateacrossdresser (seriously), but not for records management software or data warehouse, which are much more relevant to my world.

As Bob Chandra has acknowledged, "We know we're not perfect, and there's a way to go; but we think this human-computer hybrid potential has potential." Indeed it does, but it's a tough balance to get right. Time will tell if Bob and his team are able to combine the scalability of computer algorithms with the relevancy of human judgment, but this is an engine worth watching.

Viewzi is an entirely different animal. This site combines multiple types of media searches: aggregated plain text (like Dogpile), video search, image search, site previews, news feeds (from Reuters), celebrity photos, shopping, technology commentary (from TechCrunch), audio (MP3 files from multiple sources) and weather.

The interface is beautiful and has a very high cool factor. Of course, there are lots of alternatives for multimedia searching (even Google) and it will ultimately take more than a pretty face to stand in the crowded search field, but Viewzi—which is currently in beta but slated for public release this month—has a promising start.

One key will be adding and expanding content categories. For example, a Reuters feed is a nice start but a much broader news feed search capability is required. Four additional content areas, just off the top of my head, that Viewzi probably needs to incorporate rather quickly are people search (e.g. show me John Smith's profiles on ZoomInfo, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. all at once); social search (what's being posted about my search topic on Digg, del.icio.us, Mixx etc.); blogs; and finance (stock prices, news, latest financial reports etc.).

Google's got company.



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