Olga Kharif at BusinessWeek online reports on Microsoft’s efforts to expand the relevance of their search engine results via so-called “social search.” Amid the discussion is:
The foray into social search may not end with the new tool, either. Microsoft is in talks to buy or forge a partnership with two-year-old startup Eurekster.com, specializing in social-network search, BusinessWeek Online has learned from people familiar with the matter. A Microsoft spokesman declined to comment.
Launched by two serial entrepreneurs who’d previously dabbled in search and social networking, Eurekster essentially combines generic search, though a partnership with Yahoo, with information culled from social-networking sites, such as Friendster.com. Thanks to Eurekster’s technology, a Friendster user searching for “skin care” would get results that reflect reviews and preferences of a predefined group, be it friends, neighbors, or another affinity group — say pregnant women.
The presentation is marred by a conflation of a “Q&A service” with “social search” which is rectified by Danny Sullivan and Don Dodge. The net is that while Microsoft plans a Q&A service called Windows Live Answers where users can ask questions and other users offer answers, this is pretty much a “me too” of previous offerings from a number of companies that have never been successful before.
On the other hand, what Eurekster offers (reviewed in detail here) is a horse of a different color. I’m still skeptical of many of the claims for adding social features to Web offerings (eg. here), but if you read “demographic” for “affinity group,” maybe there’s a pony in social search.