Google - The next vertical search engine?
Since First Round Capital has a few vertical search engines in our portfolio (Krugle - a search engine for developers; and Biggerboat - a search engine for entertainment), I've been spending a lot of time recently trying to understand the vertical search space.
What I've been most interested in, however, is Google's approach towards vertical search. While a lot of attention has been focused on the recently launched Google Co-op -- which allows Google users to create a search engine for a customized collection of content -- I think that not enough attention has been focused on their OneBox feature. I think Google OneBox is a pretty decent attempt to create vertical search functionality inside of Google web search.
If you're looking to read books on global logistics, you could go to Amazon or Half.com -- or you could just enter "global logistics books" into Google and you get a book OneBox which lets you read the actual content from several books that discuss it.
Looking for a person? You could go to Switchboard, ZoomInfo or LinkedIn to do a person search. Or you could just type in someone's name and city in Google and get their phone number and even a map to their home.
Shopping for a product online? You could go to a price comparison engine like Shopping.com or Shopzilla -- or you could just enter the product into Google and get links to their product search results.
I think that vertical search engines can still succeed if they offer additional application-specific features/navigation that differ from traditional search-box functionality (like Krugle) or if they focus on syndicating their results across other sites (like Biggerboat). But Google's actions have real consequences for vertical search engines -- and I'm surprised that there has been more discussion around Google Co-op than Google OneBox. By implicitly determining a user's intent, Google is able to take standard queries and filter them to their vertically focused sub-sites. Am I missing something or does this have real impact on the vertical search space?