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November 22, 1998

INKTOMI EXPLAINS HOW ICQ’S SEARCH ENGINE WILL WORK

By CBR Staff Writer

As reported (CI No 3,539), Inktomi is to provide search engine facilities to a new, would-be-portal-killer version of the chat software AOL acquired from Mirabilis, ICQ. That information, however, was somehow leaked and the search engine specialist is anxious to put its own spin on the story. In fact, the spin supports the leaks. Both suggest that AOL wants to use ICQ and its 21 million loyal users to outflank the big (and mostly unprofitable) players in the portal wars. Adding search to ICQ will enhance its position as a next-generation portal by allowing users to search right from the desktop, explained Inktomi president and CEO David Peterschmidt. In this, ICQ99 resembles Apple’s Sherlock search tool, which is built into its Mac OS 8.5 operating system, and Alexa Internet’s Surf Engine (CI No 3,442). All three are persistent, remaining on the desktop regardless of where the web user happens to be surfing. The big portals have expressed uneasiness over Sherlock, which gives users access to their search technology without subjecting eyeballs to their ads. What they will do if Alexa and ICQ take off, carrying rival ads and commanding far more screen time and real estate than conventional portals, is anyone’s guess.

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