Hewlett Packard Building Intent-Based Search Engine?

You will have to take this with a grain of salt, but it is possible that Hewlett Packard could be working on a search engine.  A recent patent filed in the name of ‘Jianwei Dian’ describes a search engine that will understand the “intent” of the user inputting the search query and list results that the user needs; not simply match the query with web pages like Google.

So, how does it work? The inventor explains that the process will involve understanding the query of the user and delivering results of the information and not just the web pages that contain the words from the query (like Google does). So, if you query “Contact Information of Jianwei Dian”, you are likely to see results ranked by those web pages that contain the email, phone number, etc. of Jianwei rather than just web pages that match the query. The inventor writes

“With considering both the relevance and reliability of the matched web pages, the intent match search engine more likely will give high rankings to the web pages that both contain the information the user is looking for and are reliable sources of information. This saves the user’s time, since the few top web pages or even the very first web page may already contain what the user is looking for and is also the most reliable source of information. The user doesn’t need to navigate through a lot of matched web pages before he finds what he is looking for. “

HP files Intent Based Search Engine

While the patent looks interesting, there is still not enough confirmation about who the patent really belongs to. The patent is filed in the name of ‘Jianwei Dian’ from Plano Texas. A quick search (on Google!) on the inventor gave us the following information:

Name: DIAN Jianwei
Location: Plano, TX
Company: Hewlett-Packard Company
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone: XXX-XXX-XXXX (Home)

What do you think? Is HP indeed working on a search engine? Tell us your thoughts.

Microsoft-Facebook Ad Deal : There’s More To The Story

The blogosphere is abuzz with the news that Microsoft has lost a significant chunk of the advertising partnership that it had inked with Facebook and is renegotiating the deal.

You might recall that all of this follows Microsoft’s investment of close to $240 million in the world’s biggest social network when they also subsequently clinched a deal to display Microsoft ads in some markets.

So why has the deal fallen through now, and is this permanent? The answer is possibly NO to both these questions. Firstly, the Facebook of today is not the same Facebook that Microsoft invested in. When Microsoft pumped its money into Facebook back in 2007, the social network had less than 100 million users. Today, it is inching towards 400 million users. With a diversified user base, Microsoft’s predominantly US-targeted ad network does not make much sense.

However, this might not be a permanent reversal as well. You might remember that Microsoft is working on a social network targeted advertising platform which will promote products to users based on thei product’s recommendations from the visitors’ friends and network. It is possible that once Microsoft launches this technology, Facebook could, in all probability, replace its existing ‘Like’ option on ads with Microsoft’s recommendation feature.

What do you think?

Could The iTunes Get A New eBook Store?

After the iPhone launched and third party apps became a reality, the iTunes was introduced to a new segment of digital content called apps. The popularity of apps rivaled that of other digital content sold on the App Store like songs; so much so that an App Store was separately carved out of the iTunes store.

With the launch of Apple Tablet imminent, it now appears that the iTunes could soon be seeing a new eBook store in its premises. According to a report on 9to5 Mac, Apple is in discussion with at least six major book publishers who are looking to partner with Cupertino to sell their ebooks to Tablet customers.

According to the source, the book publishers are looking at an “agency model” wherein they shall be able to control the prices and access to the files and the Tablet would merely serve as a platform with Apple receiving a share of revenues. However, it is unlikely considering Apple has always regarded it as a policy to strictly police the content that their users have access to.

Publishers such as HarperCollins are banking on the Apple Tablet as a way to revive the sales of their books. Apparently, to these publishers, the Tablet is a better bet than Amazon Kindle because of the formats that it supports. According to a source, HarperCollins has expressed interest to sell ‘enhanced ebooks’ which are normal ebooks supplemented with videos, author interviews and social networking tools. The publishers say this would fetch the company higher margins on sales.

It will be interesting if Apple secures the partnerships of book publishers well in time before the official unveiling of the Tablet on January 27.

[via 9to5 Mac]

Is Apple Launching Its Own Search Engine?

Apple could be launching its own search engine. This is according to sources close to Apple who have revealed that the company is in discussion with Microsoft for a potential search partnership that will see Bing replacing Google as the default search engine on the iPhone.

However, according to these sources, the partnership is intended to be short-term as Apple plans to develop its own search engine in the mean time.

The rivalry between Apple and Google has heated up in the recent past with Google having launched Nexus One that competes against Apple and the latter having acquired Quattro Wireless, a mobile ad network that competes with Google.

A search engine foray from Apple could mean that Cupertino shall be in a position to leverage its smartphone penetration through ads revenue. This space looks very exciting at the moment. What do you think? Will Apple be able to out-do the Big G in the mobile search engine battle? Let us know what you think.

[via Business Week]

Internet Explorer To Come With A Dashboard To Manage All Open Tabs?

The default windows of Google Chrome and a few other browsers show a thumbnail of all the recently viewed websites. Taking this a step further, Microsoft wants you to be able to organize your open-tabs better.

In a patent filed recently at the US Patent and Trademark Office, Microsoft writes that the purpose of a ‘Quick Pick’ interface is to help users who have several dozens of tabs open a quick way to surf through all open tabs and pick the right window.

Here is what we know about the Quick-Pick Interface

  • A Quick-pick button shall be available on the navigation menu of the browser and it could additionally come with a hot-key
  • Pressing the same will open the Quick-Pick Interface which will display the open tabs in thumbnail fashion
  • Hover your mouse over any of the thumbnails to see a bigger picture of the window

  • Reorganize your tabs by dragging the thumbnails across on the Quick-Pick interface
  • Close all unwanted tabs from the Quick-pick interface
  • Click on the tab you want to go to on the Quick-pick interface

The Quick-Pick interface appears to serve as a dashboard from where you may manage all your open windows. But I wonder how many users will actually need such an interface to manage tabs. Except for the power users (who I believe have migrated away from IE a long time back), not many would see a need for this. What do you think?

Yahoo Interested In Yelp?

After Google walking away from the Yelp deal (or the other way round?), it appears like Yahoo could possibly be wooing the local reviews website. In a recent interview with Brian Womack from Business Week, Carol Bartz, the CEO at Yahoo hinted at the possibility.

Bartz was asked whether her company was looking at acquiring Yelp, to which she replied

“Local is extemely important. People do some outrageous percentage of their commercial spending five miles from their home.”

That is still not an emphatic “Yes”. But then it is not a “No” either and for the moment, we will just assume that Yahoo is interested.

[Business Week via WebProNews]

Microsoft Developing User-Generated Advertising Model

You could soon be seeing your friends recommend products for you on your social network. Microsoft has filed a patent for a new advertising method for generating User-Generated-Advertisements.

The patent elaborates on the low engagement level in ads on social networks because of the low relevance factor. To solve this, the patent calls for a new technique wherein the original ad can be supplemented with user reviews – positive and negative.

In the filing, the inventors say that subsequent visitors to the website could be shown few of those reviews based on relevance (reviewer is the new visitor’s friend, they have similar interests, etc.). Here is an example quoted in the patent

” Advertisement 400 includes objective information 401 describing a product or service that is the subject of the advertisement 400. The objective information 401 is generally provided by a promoter of the product.”

“In other information fields 403, 405, and 407, information is presented that was provided by users of the social networking web site. This information can be subjective in nature, such as the accolade provided by “USER1″ in other information field 403.”

“if both the user which provided the information and the user to whom the advertisement is being presented are both members of the same social network (e.g., the users are “friends” or a functional equivalent within the social networking site), the information provided by the user is presented as part of the advertisement. Other criteria can also be applied in determining the amount of information to present.”

The patent emphasizes the use of reviews from users of one social network elsewhere in other websites or networks.

This looks a more exhaustive ads-review system that is currently used in Facebook. On Facebook, users may choose to ‘Like‘ an ad which is possibly used in determining other ads to be shown to the same user; though in Microsoft’s case the reviews are stored to be displayed to other users of the same social network or elsewhere.

Google Might Quit China In Two Months, Android Engineers To Stay

According to industry sources quoted by Marbridge consulting, Google could be departing mainland China within two months from now. However, answering lingering doubts about the viability of a pull out considering all that is at stake for the Android platform, the source has said that Android engineers – about 100 of them could stay back.

A video conference was arranged at the Google China office where Sergei Brin directly addressed them. In the discussion, Brin told the employees that no formal decision had been taken and any outcome would be determined after discussions with the Chinese government.

According to the source, 100 Android engineers shall continue their service and additional engineers may be pulled in as the project required.

[via Marbridge Consulting]

Yahoo Bringing Real-time Parking Space Availability On Maps

Yahoo is working on a technology that will enable visitors to get real time parking space availability information on the internet or mobile phone. According to a patent filed by the company at the US Patent and Trademark Office, the invention will make use of sensors attached to the individual parking lots which will be tracked real time on Yahoo Maps.

In the filing, the inventors write

“[A] parking availability determining system includes a sensor system and a parking availability determiner. The sensor system is configured to monitor a plurality of parking spaces. The sensor system includes at least one sensor element that generates a sensor data output signal. The parking availability determiner receives the sensor data output signal and generates parking availability information.”

The inventors make a concluding statement about how the parking space availability information may be used

“Note that parking availability determiner and/or map generator may include hardware, software, firmware, or any combination thereof to perform at least a portion of their functions. For example, parking availability determiner and/or map generator may include computer code configured to be executed in one or more processors. Alternatively, parking availability determinerand/or map generator may include hardware logic/electrical circuitry.”

Is Yahoo planning to enter GPS navigation market?

Youtube To Make It Easier For Advertisers To Create Ads

Google’s problems with generating revenue from Youtube are pretty well known. This is despite introducing video overlay ads some time back. According to Google, a major reason behind this is because a lot of advertisers do not have the necessary resources to develop advertisements that can displayed upon videos.

As a solution to this, Youtube has been working on an interface that shall help advertisers easily create overlay ads just by filling up a few text fields. In a patent titled “VIDEO OVERLAY ADVERTISEMENT CREATOR” filed today at the US Patent and Trademark Office, the inventors have sought the rights for developing such an interface. In the patent, the inventors write

“In one embodiment, values specifying attributes of a desired video overlay advertisement are entered via a browser-based user interface functioning on a client device and communicated to the advertisement creation server’s advertisement creation module. The advertisement creation server receives the values and in response creates and provides to the client device a video overlay advertisement having the desired attributes, which the client displays within the browser-based user interface. In one embodiment, the browser-based user interface displays multiple advertisement segments, each segment having attributes representing the appearance of the advertisement at a particular point in time, and a set of transitions between the segments. In one embodiment, the browser-based user interface includes controls for specifying the actions that are taken in response to selection of the advertisement.”

Here are a couple of pictures that will give a clearer picture of what the interface intends to do