Google Formally Unveils Desktop Search

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Google's new desktop search feature, which launched yesterday, is the search engine giant's latest attempt to boost customer loyalty and trump its competitors, according to those watching the company.


"It is Google's attempt to really lock in the user ... into their brand," said Kevin Lee, chairman of search engine marketing firm Did-it.com, New York. "If you consider 'search' and the word 'Google' synonymous with each other, no matter where you're searching, you'll use Google for everything."


Google's desktop search, which has been in beta testing for five months, lets users who download the program conduct a full text search of their e-mail, files on their computer, Web bookmarks, chats, Web page history and other features.


"It's like having a photographic memory of everything you've seen with your computer," said Jonathan Rosenberg, vice president of product management at Google.


MSN debuted a beta version of its desktop application in January, and Yahoo launched its desktop search earlier this year, possibly prompting Google to release its version after only a few months of testing.


The company said the product also includes support for the Firefox and Netscape browsers, Thunderbird and Netscape e-mail as well as Chinese and Korean interfaces. Users also can use the search function to recover accidentally deleted or misplaced information.


"The speed in which they released it shows that it is a really important part of their future plans," said Chris Winfield, CEO of search marketing firm 10e20, New York. "This is their push to control the complete Internet experience."


The application creates an index of all the user's searchable information -- including Outlook, Excel, AOL Instant Messenger, Netscape mail, PDFs, music, images and video -- which is updated continually for most file types. For example, when the user gets a new e-mail in Outlook, he can search for it within seconds.


Though industry observers lauded Google's desktop search function from a branding point of view, they noted that the company could have better captured users with the new service. Desktop search is available for anyone to download to their computers, but Google does not ask for users' e-mail addresses in order to market to them in the future.


Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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