Fast Beats Rivals to Mobile Social Search

Fast spices up search on mobile phones with socially driven product recommendations.

SAN FRANCISCO—With search and social computing platforms converging, Fast Search & Transfer decided to take the networking approach to mobile phones.

The company on Oct. 18 added recommendations to its Active Mobile product suite to help media companies better market their content to consumers through cell phones.

Fast first demonstrated the recommendation platform, which the company acquired through its July 10 purchase of Agent Arts, to eWEEK on an iPhone at the Web 2.0 Summit here Oct. 18.

When browsing a traditional storefront on a mobile phone, users typically click on a selection and get some specs spit back at them, but the search ends there and consumers have to return to the original screen to choose other options.


Google gets into mobile social networking. Click here to read more.

Ryan Jones, director of telecom and media product marketing for Norway-based Fast, showed how consumers can access an online movie storefront through an iPhone and browse DVDs with Fast Mobile to receive personalized recommendations for similar content.

Jones selected the film "The Incredibles," and the recommendation tool returned suggestions for similar types of films, including "Toy Story" and "A Bugs Life." Jones said the recommendation tool compared his clickstream with those of hundreds of other users.

The software aims to create relationships between products, user behaviors and community opinions, and then pipes recommendations over the phone.

Jones said Fast envisions selling the technology as an add-on tool to phone carriers and, in some cases, large media companies such as Warner Bros. or NBC Universal. Customers who buy the tool will be able to map out the relationships of different recommendation trees through a Web browser.

In the future, Jones said the recommendations platform will be used to recommend "experts," or people who review the films or other products. This may also be applied to enterprises, helping employees seek out content creators.

Enterprise search is a relatively tame market compared with its cousin, consumer-oriented search, but the stakes are high because the providers want to snap up as many corporate customers as possible.


Microsoft and Google are duking it out in enterprise search. Read more here.

In Fasts case, it hopes to gain more carrier and advertiser support with mobile recommendations. Adding social computing aspects is nothing new for search providers, but Fast seems to be the first one addressing the mobile market while others are integrating similar tools for use on PCs.

Endeca unveiled Sept. 17 Discovery Suite modules that allow the use of customer-generated content such as reviews, ratings and tags in search returns.

Vivisimo came next, introducing social tagging, book marking and networking capabilities to its enterprise search platform Oct. 8.

Not to be outdone, Google Oct. 10 added Wiki Key Match, which lets users automatically promote specific Web pages for certain search terms, rather than asking an administrator for such rights.


Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on enterprise search technology.