Yahoo Drives To Make Desktop Search Standard

With Yahoo’s announcement of a free desktop search tool to be available early next year, and other search engine and software companies such as AOL, Ask Jeeves, Microsoft and others delivering similar technology, the feature is becoming a standard part of search.

All of the companies lag behind Google in market share and rollout of desktop search, which has been available in the corporate space for some time. However, the desktop search — capable of tracking down files as quickly and easily as finding something online with a Web search — is becoming an important part of overall search offerings for the enterprise and for consumers, IDC analyst Sue Feldman told TechNewsWorld.

“What we hear more than anything from people is they want integrated search,” Feldman said. “They want it to be secure. They want it to be precise, and they want it to deliver results without overwhelming them.”

Search for Partners, Profit

While desktop search software has been available to enterprises for years, there is renewed interest in the area because of overcrowded, difficult-to-manage file storage on today’s PCs.

Competitors are also pursuing search leader Google, which unveiled a beta version of its desktop search last fall. Rather than develop their own technologies, however, Yahoo, Microsoft and Ask Jeeves have all established desktop search capabilities through partnerships and acquisitions.

All of the companies, hoping to take a slice of the billions generated by search engine advertising, have beta versions of desktop search rolling out in the next two months.

Markets, Results Fused

IDC’s Feldman, who highlighted the importance of desktop search at a time when few people can effectively find files and data on their own computers, said the desktop search can be used by companies to generate revenue or as a feature in a larger search solution, which seems increasingly likely.

“As far as I’m concerned, desktop search is not a separate market,” Feldman said. “It’s a feature.”

The analyst said although search could previously be divided between consumer Internet searches and enterprise desktop searches, both user groups want the same simple results. However, Feldman added it may be difficult for providers to give consumers or workers what they want.

“That’s a hard technical problem to solve — figuring out what people want,” she said.

Keyword: Litigation

As the big companies begin rolling out their competing search solutions, there is likely to be litigation over the lucrative advertising based on search results, according to Kevin Lee, chief executive officer of search engine marketing firm Did-it.

Citing the case of car insurer Geico — which sued Google and Overture for allowing competitors to link users searching for Geico — Did-it said trademark infringement will be the most heated issue in search engine marketing next year.

“This year we are going to see multiple, major marketers sue one another and or the engines for use of a trademark as a paid keyword or in the display of a pay-per-click search ad,” Lee predicted in a statement. “If it makes it to court or results in a settlement that changes Google’s current policies, the Google/Geico case is going to significantly change the competitive marketing landscape.”

Personalization and Features

Did-it said the other most notable search trend for 2005 will be the increased personalization offered by the search engines, which will deliver better local results, behavior-based advertising and a crackdown on spam in searches.

Yankee Group senior analyst Laura DiDio told TechNewsWorld that regardless of the number of pages or documents on which a search engine is drawing, the most important thing will be features.

“It’s what people can see and use that’s going to have cachet, not five or eight billion [indexes],” DiDio said.

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