Microsoft Signs Blinkx to Video Search

UPDATED: A pact between video search company Blinkx and Microsoft
brings into sharp focus the growing importance of managing the mountain of
online content.

The agreement comes as Internet giant Google considers
whether to buy popular video site YouTube for a
reported $1.6 billion and as portals look to video as the next wave of Internet
content.

Blinkx and Microsoft plan to announce Tuesday that Blinx video search technology,
already adopted by Lycos
and others, will form the backbone for users searching for video on portions
of MSN and Live.com, according to those familiar with the signed, but not
yet announced, deal.

While Blinkx was not immediately available for comment, a Microsoft
spokesperson downplayed the agreement.

The agreement allows Microsoft’s multimedia and online products to “have the
option to integrate Blinkx services if their customers request such a
service,” a spokesperson told internetnews.com.

For the moment,
however, “there are no firm plans to integrate,” according to the Microsoft
spokesperson.

The technology used by Blinkx differs from that used to search much of the
Internet. Rather than scanning text, the San Francisco company employs voice
recognition to search the audio portion of videos.

Suranga Chandratillake, Blinkx founder, described the search technology as
“contextual phonetics,” combining text used to describe a video clip with
audio.

This deal differs from previous search agreements. Blinkx opted to license
its search technology in exchange for an undetermined licensing fee based on
the number of users of Microsoft video searches.

While possibly not as
lucrative as receiving a cut of advertising revenue, the agreement could
provide something more valuable to Blinkx: exposure.

“The Microsoft deal is great for them — Blinkx hasn’t built a brand,”
JupiterKagan analyst Joe Laszlo said.

In August, Blinkx inked an agreement with Lycos. Blinkx called video search
“a side-feature” for traditional search companies, a view with which Laszlo
agreed.

“The big portals will have video search in the future,” Laszlo said.

The
move could be accelerated if Google buys video powerhouse YouTube. Google’s
own
video search, now limited to its user-submitted Google Video site, could
adopt outside search technology if the Internet company expands.

AOL, when it announced its own AOL Video service, followed a similar
path when it purchased Truveo and SingingFish to power its search.

AOL’s
video search doesn’t include speech recognition, such as that Blinkx
provides, Todd Chanko, media analyst with JupiterKagan, said. Relying on
only text introduces human error and bias, according to the analyst.

Web searches are pretty much a free-for-all, and video searching will “help
the viewer corral all this content,” he said.

News Around the Web