A summary of search related news items that occurred this week including the FTC opens a preliminary antitrust investigation into the Google/DoubleClick merger, Microsoft’s newest product – the Surface Computer, a computer that responds to natural gestures, touch and physical objects, a new human powers search engine called “Mahalo” is launched, and finally, Mike Grehan is now working for Bruce Clay as their VP of International Business Development.
- Google’s Plus Box Patent Application - Bill Slawski takes an in-depth look at a patent regarding Google’s Plus Box feature in their search results. The Plus Box is activated by a plus sign that sometimes appears next to a search listing. When you click upon the plus sign, you are shown some more information. Bill suggests that the appearance of a plus box result for searches for local businesses appears to be triggered by some measure of “confidence” or “relevance.” While the patent filing provides details on how the expansion and collapse of results work, it doesn’t describe what might trigger one result to be chosen to display expanded results over another. Bill does go on to describe what kind of data might be displayed and how the data might be located and used.
- FTC Opens an Antitrust Investigation Regarding the Google/DoubleClick Merger - The Federal Trade Commission has opened a preliminary antitrust investigation into the $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick by search giant, Google. The Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Center for Digital Democracy and United States Public Interest Research Group all filed a request for the FTC to investigate privacy implications soon after the merger was announced. In the complaint, the groups noted that Google collects the search histories of its users, while DoubleClick tracks what Web sites people visit. The merger, according to their complaint, would “give one company access to more information about the Internet activities of consumers than any other company in the world.”
- Microsoft Announces New Product – The Surface Computer - It’s right out of a futuristic movie, a computer free of keyboard or mouse but rather one that responds to touch. TechCrunch describes it as a computer that is able to recognize physical objects from a paintbrush to a cell phone and allows hands-on, direct control of content such as photos, music and maps. Surface turns an ordinary tabletop into a dynamic surface that provides interaction with all forms of digital content through natural gestures, touch and physical objects. Where can you buy it? Well it is not for sale just yet. However you could see it in action very soon at your nearest Starwood hotel or Harrah’s casinos. Popular Mechanics has a video demo of Microsoft’s newest venture.
- Mahalo Launches, A New Human Powered Search Engine - In human powered search we most recently heard about Cha Cha and now we have Mahalo. Mahalo is different in that you are not waiting while a human runs off to perform a search for as with Cha Cha. Rather Mahalo delivers a set of results that have been pre-defined by humans. The main search results are provided by guides (Mahalo employees), who find relevant results for search terms. User submitted results are also included. Google results finalize each query. TechCrunch has additional details including that Mahalo currently has 40 full time guides who have created 4,000 results pages, each of which will serve approximately 12 various queries. Jason Calacanis, Mahalo’s creator, says that the guides are steadily improving results and adding more queries – they expect to have 10,000 by end of year, and 25,000 by end of 2008.
- Mike Grehan Now Working for Bruce Clay - Friend and fellow colleague, Mike Grehan has a new boss – Bruce Clay. In the latest of acquisitions of high profile search marketing personalities, Bruce Clay has brought Mike on as VP of International Business Development, a newly created position. Mike’s role will be to help to further develop and implement the Bruce Clay’s global growth strategy, and help with client services on key accounts. Congratulations to both Mike and Bruce.