All of the panelists said their companies see virtually no limit on the types of data that could and should be indexed by search engines. Panel participants mentioned video, images, library source documents, the contents of users hard drives, e-mail, buddy lists, calendars and other enterprise data as within the realm of possible data sources ready to be mined by search engines. Click here to read more about video search services."Rather than trying to prioritize [which of these sources to index first], we want to make all of this information universally available to you," Nishar said. Thats why Google has fielded a variety of search services and data stores, ranging from its Gmail e-mail, to its Picasa photo service, to its desktop search application, to Google Video, he said. Xeroxs Gallaire emphasized the interest and need of corporate users to index data that is currently locked away in companys databases. "Enterprise users need to access all types of information sources and repositories," Gallaire said. "You need wrappers [to enable] enterprise product integration." Xerox developed this type of technology and sold it to Documentum, Gallaire said. When asked about the type of business models they expect to support search in the future, the panelists generally agreed that paid search will continue to fuel growth for the next three to five years. A recent study revealed thatdespite FTC mandatesmany search engines still arent clearly distinguishing between paid ads and legitimate results. Click here to read more. "Today, paid [search] is a great business model," said Microsofts Kroese. "But were also pursuing other business models." Kroese noted that the price the search providers charge for paid links is still way below the cost of yellow pages ads. "Theres lots of head room," Kroese said. Horowitz said that Yahoo will continue to use paid search to offset the cost of less lucrative search ventures, such as video search and desktop search. Googles Nishar emphasized that "advertising is not necessarily evil." He noted that 40 percent of Internet search queries are commerce-specific queries. Charging advertisers for placement is not unethical, he said. Microsofts Kroese noted that the gray area in paid search occurs when its not clear which search results are paid and which are not. "Microsoft a year ago didnt have clarity in its advertising model," he said, noting that this situation has now been rectified. "If you put the user first, you will do well," Kroese said. Kroese made no mention of MSNs widely anticipated launch of new betas of its MSN Web search and desktop search technologies. A number of industry pundits have identified February 1 as the date when MSN will trumpet the latest betas of its search services. MSN officials have declined to comment on what, if anything, the unit is planning to unveil Tuesday. Editors Note: This story was updated to include clarification from Microsoft officials on the companys multiple search technologies. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on enterprise search technology.
"The Web currently only has 5 percent of information [indexed]," said Googles Nishar. The rest of the data sources that need to be indexed are stored everywhere from digital cameras, to users hard drives, to out-of-print books, he said.