June 2003 Archive
Following up on Hotbot's announcement yesterday and Infospace's the day before, here comes Google with a beta of version 2.0 of the Google Toolbar. The new version has several new features including a pop-up blocker (which counts how many it has blocked, something I really do not want to know), the ability to automatically fill out forms, and a BlogThis! button to instantly comment in your blog on the page you are viewing. Of course BlogThis! only works if you have a blog on Google-owned Blogger. The toolbar only works with Internet Explorer and on Windows.
HotBot also launched a new toolbar, although they call it a desk bar. It differs from the Dogpile and Google toolbars in that it does not get installed within the browser, but rather it runs from the Windows Explorer Taskbar. While it only works in Windows and says that it requires Internet Explorer 5.5 or newer, it will actually work with any default browser.
InfoSpace is introducing a toolbar with their meta search engine Dogpile. It only works in Internet Explorer 5.01 or higher and on Windows. The press release notes that the toolbar gives meta search engine results along with U.S. yellow and white pages, dictionary, thesaurus, stock quotes, public records, horoscopes, maps, and other options. It can be customized by the user as to the default search and which buttons to display.
Matt Wells, creator of Gigablast, announces the release of Gigablast 2.0 which is supposed to double the speed of query responses, increase the importance of phrase matching in the relevance ranking, and started a full update to the database.
MSN Search has used ads from Overture, first results from LookSmart, and Inktomi for secondary results for years. Microsoft now is preparing a new database built by its own crawler. The new MSNBOT is actively crawling the Web, but it is only a prototype. None of its retrieved records are directly feeding the current MSN Search database. However, the FAQ does state that Although we have not set a date, it is our intention to eventually integrate the crawled contents into MSN Search results. So look for a new MSN Search sometime in the future that may (or may not) replace Overture, Looksmart, and/or Inktomi.
AltaVista announces larger image, audio, and video databases. Their press release trumpets "AltaVista's Multimedia Index Becomes World's Largest" and claims "540 million comprehensive, high-quality image files and approximately 11 million video and audio files" and "125 million more files than the next highest competitor." However, there is no good way to measure the actual size, and depending on the search term and the way the image search is done, you may still find more results at other engines. On the AltaVista image search, they added a "Size" limit, with small, medium, large, and a variety of standard wallpaper dimensions.
Google the advertising company is now moving beyond search-related ads into content-based sites with an affiliate program called AdSense. The self-service program makes it easy for Web masters and Web publishers to put Google ads on their site and share the ad dollars. What ads get put on the participating sites? Google uses its link analysis techniques to try and match appropriate advertisers with the right publishers. How well that will work and how profitable it may turn out to be for both Google and the publishers remains to be seen.
FindWhat, another ad bidding engine like Overture and Google AdWords, is buying up Espotting, an ad bidding engine that has focused on Europe, for about 8.1 million shares of FindWhat.com stock and about $27 million in cash for a combined valuation of about $163 million according to their US press release. The combination of the two may help FindWhat become a more serious competitor for the search engine ad space to the two big companies: Overture and Google.
On top of all the continuing confusion of acquisitions and ownerships changes in the search engine field, comes this one. Earlier this year Overture bought up AltaVista and the FAST Web Search business including AlltheWeb. That left FAST Search and Transfer with the FAST enterprise search business but not the public Web searching business. Now Overture is selling the AltaVista enterprise search portion of AltaVista to FAST. Confused? Try the FAST press release. But basically, Overture now owns the AltaVista and AlltheWeb and FAST public Web search engines. FAST Search & Transfer has the FAST and AltaVista enterprise search engines (for site search, intranet search, etc.).
As announced last month, xrefer's free showcase is now gone. In Sept. 2001 I wrote a column "Ready-Reference Collections: Bartleby and xrefer" that reviewed its capabilities. Now alas it is only available to institutional subscribers, not individuals. Fortunately, there are a few similar reference resources that continue to be freely accessible: Bartleby's reference section and InfoPlease.
Pandia reports that "Google has started using automatic redirect scripts directing non-US users to the relevant national versions of the Google site." Even U.S. users should bear this in mind when traveling outside the country. Fortunately, as Pandia notes, you can still get to the main U.S. version with an address such as http://www.google.com/webhp?hl=en.
AOL Search now has an Images tab for image searching. It has no advanced search and only a single query box. While it certainly appears to be based on the Google image search, the AOL version often has fewer results, a more strict adult filter, and may have a different ranking than at Google.
Intelliseek has "discontinued sales and support of its BullsEye Plus and BullsEye Pro products." And though the statement does not say so, the free BullsEye is gone as well.