After two rainy days of location-based, social networking apps, the sun finally came out in Austin at SXSW. And as the clouds parted I stumbled upon Everything.me, a new HTML5, browser-based app that has literally and simply, reinvented mobile search.
In Paul Graham’s recent post “Frighteningly Ambitious Startup Ideas” he puts A New Search Engine as #1 on the list. ”…for the first time in over a decade the idea of switching seems thinkable to me,” Graham says of Google’s search engine. “…make the search engine you yourself want,” he continues. “If you can just build something that you and your friends genuinely prefer to Google, you’re already about 10% of the way to an IPO, just as Facebook was (though they probably didn’t realize it) when they got all the Harvard undergrads.”
Serial entrepreneurs Ami Ben-David, Rami Kasterstein and Joe Simon are the co-founders of Everything.me, an 18-person startup based in San Francisco and Israel who have reinvented search for the mobile browser.
Dubbed “The Everything Project”, Everything.me is the next evolution of a product formerly known as Do@. In May of last year, at TechCrunch Disrupt, Ben-David, Kasterstein and Simon launched Do@, a native app that pulled in dozens of other popular apps to answer your mobile search query. While the aim of Do@ and Everything.me are both to optimize mobile search, Ben-David says most users found Do@ overly complicated.
“We weren’t getting the kind of user traction we wanted. So, instead of talking to techies, we spoke to elderly ladies in Nebraska and kids in New York City,” he explains.
In its current form, Everything.me delivers a highly visual, immediate and recognizable experience. It’s is the very definition of mobile optimized with giant, friendly background images and easy-to-spot icons. Meanwhile, the Google search experience on mobile delivers a page of links in size 10 font and hasn’t evolved since we started using our phones to search on mobile.
Check out the difference below:
This is what one might call a paradigm shift. While Google’s search only provides 2 results at first view, I can see a wide array of results on Everything.me as well as a large photo in the background, which happens to be the photo on my Facebook Timeline. ”When I designed Everything.me I had this question in mind,” says Ben-David, “What if search was reinvented just for an iPhone? How would we make search both beautiful and inspiring?”
Everything’s search is smart too. David explains that if you were to search for Madonna, results will differ depending on if she’s recently released an album or a movie. Additionally, as more people choose a certain result, it will naturally rise to the top.
This beckons the question of what SEO experts will think? “SEO is very easy with Everything.me,” says Ben-David. “Just build a great mobile website.”
While the moms in Nebraska and the kids in New York City were primarily searching for rockstars like Lady Gaga, movies and other forms of entertainment, everyone I showed it to in Austin used it to search for themselves. Ami Ben-David noticed this too and acknowledged that customization of one’s personal search results could be a potential feature in the near future.
Ben-David says that they’ve started with an HTML5 app as it allows them to work on the product before launching a native app. The Everything.me team plans to push out native apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7 in the coming weeks. For now, I suggest adding Everything.me to your home screen to give it a try.
He also makes it clear that the team is laser-focused on mobile only for now. ”We’re not focusing on PC results because search on PC isn’t broken.” Going to Everything.me in your browser will bring you to a landing page with information about the startup.
For the iPhone, integration with SIRI could work beautifully. Imagine saying “Everything Sushi” and receiving the following results for Yelp, OpenTable, Foodspotting, UrbanSpoon, Foursquare, etc. Ben-David adds that dictation will be baked into the native Android app.
While Everything.me works really well for people, places and things, it doesn’t work very well for companies. Searching for “The Next Web” delivers a myriad of funky results while searching for “Delta Check-in” proved futile, delivering results such as About.com, eHow and Google Search itself instead of the Delta website.
What is most interesting to me about Everything.me, aside from its refreshing design, is how this new form of search levels a playing field that Google has long-dominated. While Google Shopping or Google Weather might be one of the first results within Google Search, Everything.me delivers results like Amazon, eBay, Craigslist and Overstock and Weather.com, Accuweather, Weatherbug, respectively.
In terms of monetization strategies, Ben-David replies that “Revenues follow users, not the other way around.” Since it’s a search product, advertisers will naturally come and Ben-David says they will very likely offer advertisers a chance to promote results ala Twitter’s promoted Tweets model.
So, should Google be scared? “That would be like asking if an elephant should be scared of a mosquito,” answers Ben-David, who has shown his app to a handful of impressed Google employees. But while Everything.me is powered by just 10 servers in comparison to Google’s 900,000, its innovative approach should rightfully turn heads and prompt tech giants and users alike to rethink search on the mobile web.
To date, the company has raised $9 million from Draper Fisher Jurvetson with participation of DFJ Tamir Fishman and seed investor BRM. DFJ Managing Director Tim Draper is on Everything.me’s Board of Directors.
Sascha Burkard via shutterstock