I would like to see Blinkx succeed — the San Francisco startup has far and away the most innovative feature set of any of the host of desktop search tools out there, and the new 2.0 release is even better — but I am worried that they aren’t going to find a way to get people to pay. After all, Microsoft is about to launch free desktop search, Google already has, and Copernic has an excellent free product.
Where will Blinkx go to hide? Yes, it could go vertical and become a market research and business intelligence tool. But while that is still an open market, especially market research (as my wife regularly reminds me), few folks have had much luck getting market researchers to adopt a unified platform. Like lab technicians everywhere, such researchers are fond of rolling their own tools (Excel is a bizarre favorite) and complaining that nothing else works well enough.
Nevertheless, I like the new features in Blinkx 2.0, including smart folders and the P2P hooks. I also like seeing that the former head of Yahoo Europe, Mark Opzoomer, has joined the company as CEO. He is a fellow Queen’s University alumnus, so even though he is an accountant he must be a half-decent guy 😉
Blinkx is doing some great stuff, much more innovative work in desktop search than what Google and Microsoft are doing. After all, while desktop search tools are on the desktop, they are hooked to the Internet — vendors should use it, and only Blinkx really is.
And that is perhaps Blinkx’s ticket to differentiating itself. if Blinkx is going to prosper it is partly going to be because it is first to chase down some search-related verticals and wins ’em, areas like market research and competitive intelligence. But it is mostly going to be because it turns search from an application into your working environment. Blinkx, to my way of thinking, is doing the right thing in following the immersive Madge model of search: “You’re soaking in it.”