Group Search, the next big trend?

First there was the Internet search, then the desktop search, and now it is time for what my Business 2.0 colleague Erick Schonfeld calls, “group search.” Following up on my little scooplet on Grouper-Ask Jeeves alliance, he talked to Grouper president Dave Samuel and got the confirmation.

> This is interesting because it would be one of the first times that desktop search will be extended (albeit in a limited fashion) to multiple PCs.

Erick is exactly right, and I personally feel that we might be onto something big. Grouper embedding Ask Jeeves search in its client is the most obvious example of what is really peer-to-peer search. In many ways, the first generation peer to peer clients were offering these type of search capabilities. I have started to see a grown up version of this search show up in different products. I saw this first in Mercora, which limited its search to music files.

Then Grouper-Ask Jeeves product offering. Earlier I reviewed FolderShare, which had a nifty little feature that allowed you to do desktop search amongst P2P connected computers. Today, I had a chance to meet with folks from Imeem, and they showed off their own version of “group search.” I guess, as more and more devices get connected to the Internet via broadband pipes, we will see interesting variations of search evolve.

The way I see it, there are two main challenges to this “group search.” The legal aspects of it are worrisome especially in these lawsuit-happy times following the Grokster decision. The second and perhaps the more critical challenge facing the innovators is the speed with which big companies – MSN, Yahoo and Google – will copy this group search. I saw that with desktop search when Blinkx paved the way only to be imitated later. Still, an area to keep an eye out on!