Exalead Tailors Search to the iPhone

The enterprise search provider offers an alternative to Google's mobile search engine.

Unhappy with the way Googles mobile search engine works on the Apple iPhone, enterprise search provider Exalead is launching a version of its Web search engine that is specifically tailored for the popular wireless device.

Timed for the release of the iPhone in France Nov. 29, the new search engine enables searches for text-based content as well as video, images and Wikipedia, said co-founder and CEO Francois Bourdoncle.

iPhone users can point their Web browsers to i.exalead.com to access Exaleads search engine. The new software hews to the display specifications of the iPhone screen so that users dont have to zoom in to clearly see search results or scroll horizontally to see the rest of the Web page.

The software is also optimized for multimedia, handling online video searches from such sources as YouTube. When users click on a video search result, the Exalead engine offers a full-screen viewing experience. Exalead also provides a thumbnail image for every search result so that users can quickly sort through results.

Bourdoncle said he and his team at Exalead developed the user interface for their search engine after suffering poor user experiences with Googles mobile search engine on the iPhone. For example, Bourdoncle said he couldnt do a blog search and could barely see the "next result" button. Moreover, the font is not very attractive, he said.

"Its so minimalist its almost unusable," Bourdoncle told eWEEK.

Exalead is merely the latest company to join the iPhone party. Since the iPhone launched June 29, Google, Facebook, Zimbra and scores of other businesses have rushed to tailor their software and services for the device. Their exuberance appears well-founded as Apple went on to ship 1 million units of the phone by Sept. 10.


Apple ships one million iPhones. Click here to read more.

Ironically, Bourdoncle said he hadnt planned on getting an iPhone because he didnt believe it was optimized for business use, such as synchronizing between different computers.

Then he bought an iPod Touch and, after falling in love with its ease of use (double tapping similar to a mouse on a PC), he stopped turning on his laptop to check e-mail in favor of reading mail on the iPod Touch.

Bourdoncle took the bait and is buying the iPhone.

"The iPhone is clearly a consumer device, but there are so many people in the business environment that want to use it," he said, citing the gadgets ease of use. "Its going to be very interesting how Apple takes this into account, or not."

Bourdoncle said Apple should offer business users the ability to do two-way data synchronization across several computers, similar to what some of the higher-end Nokia smart phones offer today for the enterprise.


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