Google announces Google Custom Search Engine which lets websites create custom searches (CNET, Financial Times, TechCrunch, GigaOm, Search Engine Journal). Although I've left out key details in my post, Custom Search Engine is identical to my SearchPoint idea, which I've pitched to MSN engineers more than 2 years ago when I was up there to preview MSN Search. I didn't post details because I thought MSN team was going to implement them. Stupid me.
If MSN engineers really liked the idea as they appeared to be, they dropped the ball big time by failing to focus on ideas that matter instead of pouring all that resources into fuzzy Live services. If they were just pretending, maybe now they'll admit to overlooking an important opportunity.
Why did I call the idea SearchPoint? I named it SearchPoint because the idea originated from my vision of seeing keywords and topics as holes in a endless veil that separates users and information. Note that what is seen through each hole depends on a user's location. General search is like a big hole in the middle into which general population looks at from a single common location which, while it serves general needs, fails to meet all the needs. So what is out there that can help users search from different perspectives? Websites! There are countless number of websites out there that facilitates focused needs of users. What if MSN, with its advanced query language, allowed those websites to build specialized searches tailored to meet the needs of site visitors? Then each website becomes a point from which searches are performed: SearchPoint!
Anyway, I am seriously disappointed at the MSN team.
At Matt's Curiouser and Curiouser, Julien Couvreur asks:
Is this any different than Rollyo or Windows Live search macros?
Both Rollyo and Live Search Macros are more like my Search Hats idea than SearchPoint in it's. Rollyo allows users to use, build, and share searchrolls, basically a variation of blogroll that lists websites instead of blogs, to focus search domains. Since list websites are fixed, Rollyo is primarily for 're-searching'. Live Search Macros is also designed to be created by users and shared among users although I think is potentially more powerful because of MSN search's flexible search engine and powerful query language. But then Live Search Macros looks and feels like it was implemented by a 6-year old so I think they do more harm than good.
SearchPoint differs from these ideas in that it helps website operators build 'custom search box' to be displayed at their website to allow users to search topics relevant to the context of the website. This subtle difference matters little at the implementation level (i.e. you can easily build SearchPoint on top of Live Search Macros) but impacts non-engineering aspect of the business hugely. First, having MSN SearchBox displayed prominently on websites means exposure, traffic, and built-in ad-space in one. Second, users don't have to enter or select macros because being at a website makes the context clear. Third, website operators are more like to create and maintain search customization than users. I could go on and on but then what's the point?