Since I saw RockMelt’s Search Overlay I’ve been doing some rethinking on my search concept. I noticed their features were made to help users search faster. While my features were mostly about decentralizing search by supporting the OpenSearch specifications. So they were user focused while I was platform focused. An important rule about platforms is they’re only as valuable as the number of users it has.
Plus, in light of the shrinking availability of wholesale search providers, it dawned on me that restricting search providers to displaying results in the same feed-based format would eliminate the only other differentiators they have besides their brand. Thus, it wouldn’t really help decentralize search. Before this news, it had occurred to me that differentiation might be a problem, but it wasn’t this serious of a concern.
I still think there’s hope for decentralized search. If there were a search application that could be smart enough to know which engine the user wants to use for a given search, then people could rely less on general purpose engines. This would be effective for when the user wants to use a website’s search repository (eg. Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Youtube etc.) or a engine that specialized in certain content (eg. News, TV Shows, Gadgets etc.). Though, it won’t be too useful until it can smartly guess which search engine has the content the user wants, when she has no clue.
Anyways, I’m still convinced that a more client based search application is the way to go and that RockMelt’s website integration and mobile apps for things like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube are good examples how to do it.