On Friday ChunkIt launched in a private beta. ChunkIt is a search download that sits on top of existing results and enables users to preview them before clicking. Relevant “chunks” of content are called out in a separate pane that splits the screen between the engine and the ChunkIt page.
At this stage it sounds a lot like other search plug-ins, toolbars, or search “side bars” that have come before. However, CEO Carlton Baab objects to the concept that this is simply another plug-in or search toolbar. He characterizes it instead as a “search engine for the browser.”
In the past, there have been numerous efforts to help users cull through search results via plug-ins, toolbars, or search add-ons. Recent entries include Mahalo Follow and Surf Canyon, a plug-in that “recommends” related search results. Then there are numerous Firefox extensions that augment or annotate search results. There have also been many third-party efforts to enable people to “preview” results prior to clicking (e.g., Snap ). And there’s an emerging category of so-called “visual search engines,” which push that concept further.
Baab says, by contrast, that ChunkIt is a powerful search engine could stand on its own. But the company didn’t want to ask people, for obvious reasons, to try yet another new engine. So it adopted the current download/overlay strategy, which may change over time according to Baab.
An interesting search plug-in in the local segment, Palore changed its model because it found getting people to download the application very challenging. The company is now aggregating and syndicating local data and reselling it to consumer destinations instead. Analytics firm Compete was at one time pushing a toolbar, which offers overlay information on search results about a range of topics. While the toolbar still exists, the company has stopped directly promoting it on its home page.
These examples suggest the challenge that ChunkIt faces to gain awareness ad adoption. The tool is in private beta so we haven’t yet had a chance to assess its value.