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Saturday, July 26, 2003

MSN to Stay With Overture Ė for Now

Microsoft told analysts this week it would continue to honor its agreement with Overture while it worked out a long-term strategy for MSN Search.

The software giant has a deal in place to display Overture listings on MSN until the end of 2004, although there is apparently an "out" clause built into the agreement allowing MSN to pull out should Yahoo purchase Overture.

Microsoft seems to feel it has two long-term options: build a search engine of its own, or keep using affiliate agreements with other search providers. Microsoft hasnít officially committed to developing its own engine, but the gears are obviously in motion (as anyone that has been paid a visit by MSNís new bot would agree). My guess is the long-term prospect of having an engine to call its own is a better alternative to MSN than a litany of ever-changing affiliate agreements.

Posted by Adam
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Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Just Got a Hot Stock Tip from a Cab Driver Named "Jeeves"

No question, Teoma's a nice search engine. The butler character's always been cuddly and well-dressed, even though pretty easy to stump. But you just know valuations are getting out of hand when a competent business journalist (who also plays one on television) "discovers" ASKJ and says it "might not be too late" to own the stock... while remaining vague on such business fundamentals as earnings history, earnings projections, market share, and the volatility of online advertising prices.

Disclaimer: I'm not a business reporter. Nor do I play one on TV. Nor am I a telegenic investment adviser. Do your own research. But just so you know, Ask Jeeves processed 3% of US-based online searches in May 2003. This is pretty much all they do since selling off their enterprise division for pocket change. This company is not setting the world on fire.

Posted by Andrew
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Tuesday, July 22, 2003

An Amazonian Search Engine, Coming Soon?

Just as I was working on an article about different ways to dramatically improve upon the already satisfactory state of search engine technology, Amazon.com says they may be close to a deal with several book publishers to allow full-text searching of thousands of nonfiction volumes sold online by Amazon.com.

The author of this New York Times article (via News.com) surmises that Amazon is looking to take on the Googles and Yahoos of the world by offering such a rich trove of searchable information exclusively to Amazon users. I don't think Amazon had intimated their intention of taking this approach, but if they do, I think it's a big mistake.

The concept of full-text searching of thousands of books is a fantastic idea. In fact, I believe that one of the biggest problems with search engines isn't the search technology at all; it's the lack of relevant content available in public Internet documents. Most of the millions of books published since Gutenberg invented the printing press are not even searchable online. That's billions of pages of rich information that aren't even available to the general searching public. But why shouldn't it be?

And, why shouldn't Amazon simply partner with all the search engines to integrate this information into search results across all engines? If a particular book is truly the most relevant information a searcher needs, he may just be willing to buy the book if he knows the information is contained within. I know I wouldn't mind the sales pitch from Amazon if I knew I could get just the right content that's only available in a book. Of course, I'd prefer to be able to download the book, but books on demand are probably a ways off.

There will certainly be copyright issues to work out, but it is in everyone's best interest to make this an open system, rather than a closed one. Since Google already provides the Web search on Amazon.com as well as AdWords content-targeted ads, it makes sense for these two titans to work out something together, rather than for Amazon to go it alone.

Posted by Cory
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Monday, July 21, 2003

Blog phenomenon seeping out into mainstream journalism

Is the editorial board of the Dallas Morning News taking a risk in launching a topical weblog? Will anyone pay attention? And more to the point, maybe, will this experiment prove once and for all that "editorial boards" produce uninteresting and shallow analysis compared to the richer, riskier "takes" available on the blogs of non-aligned online journalists?

Posted by Andrew
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