Vendors Rush the Desktop Search Field

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-11-17 Print this article Print

Ask Jeeves plans to launch its desktop answer for search next month, while Yahoo is waiting in the wings. But how would the change in search dynamics affect webmasters and marketers?

LAS VEGAS—Ready or not, desktop search is set to gain yet another major contender next month. Ask Jeeves Inc. plans to release a desktop-search product in December, a company executive confirmed this week during an interview at the World Search Conference here. Desktop search has become the latest battleground among leading search players, with Google, Microsofts MSN division and Yahoo all working on products. But if desktop search catches on among users, its unclear how it would affect the webmasters and marketers vying for top rankings.
While Emeryville, Calif.-based Ask Jeeves hasnt provided many details, its product appears likely to follow the approach of other Web search engines by combining hard-drive results, such as from e-mails and files, with its core Web results.
"Its going to be an inclusive thing, and we hope to incorporate the whole experience," said Michael Palka, director of product management at Ask Jeeves. Signs of Ask Jeeves desktop plans surfaced earlier this year when it acquired desktop-search startup Tukaroo Inc. During the launch in September of the MyJeeves personalized search service, an Ask Jeeves executive told that desktop search would be out by the end of the year and would include integration with MyJeeves. Among major Web search engines, it will join Google Inc., which already released its desktop search beta, and Microsoft Corp., whose MSN division has slated a beta of desktop search for December. Google Desktop Search delivers both local and Web results within its Web interface. Meanwhile, an internal beta of MSNs product leaked onto the Web this week focuses on returning different types of results depending on where a user is working within Windows. Read more here about MSNs desktop search beta. Also in the wings is Yahoo Inc. Its chief executive, Terry Semel, said in a financial analyst conference earlier this month that the Sunnyvale, Calif., company is working on desktop search, but he offered few details on its plans. Next Page: How will desktop search affect webmasters?

Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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