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Alexa App Ideas

Posted on Thursday, Dec 15th 2005

The Alexa announcement from Amazon has generated a lot of buzz and discussion.

Without getting into the argument of whether this will affect Google, Yahoo or Microsoft’s Search Businesses, I do want to write about the impact of isolating the “engine” out, so that developers all around the world can create applications on it. If there is developer uptake, then it would be safe to assume that Google, Yahoo and Microsoft will follow suit, and also open up their engines to the developer community.

I have always been a big fan of application-specific search engines, whereby, you can constrain the domain of the search, manage the taxonomies of the results, and synthesize information into digestable formats. Today, I submit, that Google is not very “digestable” except for very simple searches.

Okay, example. I spent a few years of my life on a Search Engine application called Prospectminer. Our positioning was An Application for Sales Lead Generation and Qualification. This application had a built in crawler that could search the web for B-to-B sales leads (Suspects, not Prospects or Leads, really), and facilitate the qualification process.

If I were designing this application today, I would probably use an engine such as Alexa (or Google, if they opened it up), and offer it as a web service. We were working on the project in 1998, before the era of web services. We had all sorts of Prospecting tricks programmed into this app, and used learning algorithms and NLP algorithms to augment the pure web crawling that a crawler would achieve.

I would like to hear from other readers who have ideas for / experience with such applications. I believe, the developer community ought to be able to do a lot of very creative and interesting things with such an engine, and some of these ideas could be viable new businesses.

I will suggest some other such apps to try your hands at, if you wish as well …

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Interesting idea. I’ve been having thoughts on somewhat similar lines of late, and plan to do something in this area once my ideas crystallize. I’d like to hear of the other such apps you have in mind.


Vasudev Ram Friday, December 16, 2005 at 10:15 AM PT

Google does provide the APIs and required web services to use their engines and even Yahoo exposes some of the web services similarly. Providing a generic service on top of the google engine is not a very good idea as tomorrow google can certainly do that within a few days. The applications which use additional intelligence or knowledge about the users’ need which is not known by the engine would be interesting.

Santanu Bhattacharya Monday, December 19, 2005 at 12:21 AM PT

Vasudev, You could look into applications around recruitment (candidate research, profiling, etc.), as an example. Sramana

Sramana Mitra Friday, January 20, 2006 at 9:00 PM PT