In the increasingly popular category of “people search” much-anticipated new search engine Spock launched with a public beta today. It’s running very slowly this morning and so it has been challenging to use. However Spock joins a growing list of “vertical” engines focused on the segment such as Zoominfo, Wink, Pipl, WikiYou, PeekYou and several others, including WhitePages.com and LinkedIn.
Of course most people search occurs on Google and Yahoo, et al. But these engines hope to offer more depth and precision, given the frequent ambiguity and “noise” that can occur in general search results for individual names.
This new generation of people search sites essentially aim to index and organize all the public data about individuals and make it more discoverable. Interestingly, the long-established WhitePages.com is moving to reposition itself a bit as a people search engine in the wake of all the new competitors.
Spock for its part seeks to get people to “claim their profile” (upload photos, etc.) and is a bit of a cross, in that way, between Wikipedia and LinkedIn. There are also some interesting social networking dimensions to the service (“find your friends,” “tag your friends,” “related people“). Here’s a Spock search result for “Danny Sullivan.” Compare results for Danny on Google and Yahoo. (Yahoo also has a people search engine in the style of WhitePages.com.)
I was unable to find precise figures for monthly searches tied to individuals but it’s a big number, especially when celebrities are factored in — in the billions of queries.
In the near term, the game will be to index and rank well in major search engines (a la Wikipedia).