Quixey: A Search Engine For The Apps Era

Are apps just websites in another form? Are they another way to package and sell software? Are they a successor to the “open web.” Regardless of where you stand on the issue, the app has made its mark and doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon.

Many have lamented the rise of apps and the return of “closed” proprietary platforms  (e.g., Apple, Facebook). Recently in a widely discussed interview Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin pointed to “walled gardens” and government censorship as threats to the established web. He later clarified that the biggest threat to the web was from government censorship and not Apple.

One of the reasons that Brin and others don’t like apps is that their internal content is not indexed. Plenty of apps surface in search results but not what’s inside.

A number of app search engines have arisen to confront the so-called “app discovery problem.” Among them are Quixey, Chomp (recently acquired by Apple), Appsfire, Appolicious and Xyologic. Yahoo has built an app search engine; and one can also search Google Play for apps of course. Bing also dabbled in app search for a time.

The central difference between most of these sites and Quixey is that the latter is not simply indexing and searching mobile apps. Quixey characterizes what it does as “functional search” rather than app search. It’s indexing available apps across platforms (including the PC), as well as web content pertaining to those apps.

The idea is that users will enter queries that describe tasks or goals to accomplish rather than specific apps or even app categories. For example, in response to the query “learn french,” the search engine produces a range of results that show mobile apps but also “apps” for Firefox, Facebook, Mac and Windows (both paid and free).

Quixey won’t go so far as to say that it’s a direct competitor to Google. However it does regard itself as more effective for discovering apps and app content (broadly defined). It also suggests by implication that it’s something of a Google successor in some respects. It uses the tagline “a new type of search” on its site.

The company was founded in 2009 and has raised just over $4 million to date. Eric Schmidt is an investor. It’s also talking to various third parties about powering their app search. This is something that other app search engines are doing as well.

In one way of looking at the world apps now represent a parallel universe of content to the more traditional “open web.” HTML5 may eventually succeed in bridging the two worlds; however that hasn’t happened yet. Many assume and some are banking on the idea that apps are now a permanent new way to deliver web content — whether in mobile or online. In that arena Quixey is trying to the Google for the new apps era.

Related Entries

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile | Search Engines: Mobile Search Engines | Search Engines: Other Search Engines

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • ylechelle

    Discovery on mobile devices has more to do with contextual serendipity (passive discovery within a reduced universe) than keyword based search addressing the entire catalog. At least that’s what we’ve found out at Appsfire. Of course, this presupposes that the meta-data is fully mapped out and clustered and mined in meaningful ways in the backend… 

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