Google Shrinks Search Tools, Goes Patent-Hunting

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Though it’s rapidly expanding into a media conglomerate, Google has by no means forgotten about its fundamental services—namely, search. In fact, on Thursday, the industry leader announced plans to unveil new, higher-capacity systems designed to meet the growing need to search for documents inside businesses.

Google’s new product line of “Mini” search appliances, used by small to mid-sized companies, includes systems that can find up to 200,000 internal documents (which sells for $5,995) and a 300,000 document search appliance ($8,995). The search appliances are a combination of hardware and software that can pool a wide variety of documents authored by office workers inside an organization, or that can be used externally to allow customers to search through documents on a company’s website.

The two new devices improve on Google’s previous Mini search appliance -introduced a year ago- which has the capacity to search a smaller pool of 100,000 documents and sells for $2,995. According to statement made to Reuters by Google’s Enterprise General Manager Dave Girouard, Google has already sold “thousands of Minis to more than 2,000 organizations.” But beyond that, Girouard refused to disclose any more specific figures.

Though search appliances like Google’s are expected to generate upward of $900 million in sales during 2006, they currently only represent a tiny fraction of the company’s revenues—99% of which still come from contextual search ads.

In other Google happenings, it’s been reported today that a senior research scientist at the company, Shumeet Baluja, has filed U.S. patent application 20060004627 for the “call-on-select” process that takes into account screen size, connection speed and input capabilities of mobile devices to determine whether to serve an ad that would link to a website or place a phone call to the advertiser.

The patent application – which is based on an algorithm that considers the various limitations of a device, an ad’s relevance to users (both contextual and behavioral), CPM and CPC price, user preferences and other “performance parameters — could give Google competitive edge in the burgeoning click-to-call/mobile advertising markets.

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