Enterprise Search Vendors Eye Emerging Markets

FAST launches an application to help directory publishers compete in local search, while Copernic dives into the desktop-search arena.

Readying for battle in the emerging areas of local and desktop search, enterprise search vendors are rolling out software to counter moves by Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.

FAST Search & Transfer ASA on Thursday launched an enterprise search application for Internet yellow pages, classifieds and directories aimed at the local and vertical search markets. Meanwhile, in a separate announcement earlier this week, Copernic Technologies Inc. homed in on desktop search with the release of a free tool for searching desktop files and e-mails.

FAST of Oslo, Norway, announced an application called FAST AdVisor that runs atop its enterprise search technology, called the FAST Enterprise Search Platform. AdVisor lets companies index structured and unstructured data from their databases as well as from the Web, and it provides tools for tweaking relevancy and the presentation of results.

Among its features is the ability to categorize search results either dynamically or within established taxonomies so users can drill into results. AdVisor also provides features to adjust relevancy based on advertiser needs, integrate into mapping engines for geographically targeted results, manage multilingual dictionaries and gather analytics.

AdVisor is targeted at traditional providers of telephone directories, business-to-business directories and classified ads that want to expand their online search capabilities, said David Isaacson, director of product marketing at FAST.

"What is driving them more and scaring some of the companies is competition from global search providers, folks like Yahoo and Google who are driving into local market," Isaacson said. "What local and traditional publishers like Internet Yellow Pages want to do is defend their territory, and theyre coming to folks like us."

Google in March launched a beta of its locally focused search site, while Yahoo last month revamped its local offering following earlier enhancements.

AdVisor is available now. Its pricing varies widely depending on the level of customization but starts in the low six figures, Isaacson said.

It is the second of three so-called "search-derivative applications" that FAST has released for its enterprise search platform. In June, it launched one called Marketrac for gathering and analyzing market intelligence information from internal repositories and the Web.

FAST also plans to launch an application targeted at publishers, and earlier this week agreed to buy a portfolio of publishing applications from document-management vendor NextPage Inc. to accelerate that effort.

Beyond local search and directories, Copernic on Tuesday unveiled its Copernic Desktop Search tool for searching files, e-mails and e-mail attachments on a users hard drive.

Copernic is known for its Windows-based tool called the Copernic Agent that gathers Web search results across major engines. Last year, the Boston-based company expanded into the enterprise search field.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read more about metasearch software for the desktop.

The hard-drive search tool pits Copernic more directly against efforts by Google and Microsofts MSN division to bolster desktop search.

Google, which already has the Google Deskbar for entering a Web query from the desktop, is reportedly working on a broader desktop-search application.

MSN in July bought desktop-search startup Lookout Software LLC and has said it plans to unveil its own desktop-search product later this year.

Copernic Desktop Search supports a range of file types, including Microsoft Office file formats; PDF; contacts and browser history lists; and popular audio, image and video formats, the company announced.

It also previews the files and e-mails included in search results and highlights the search terms within a document, Copernic said.

Copernic Desktop Search is available as a free download. It runs on Windows 95 or later and requires Internet Explorer 5.0 or later.

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