Quixey, the app search company that closed a $20 million Series B round this summer, is today announcing a major new partnership. Beginning today, the company’s app search results will be integrated into Ask.com. These results will appear interspersed with Ask’s main search results page, as well as within a new, dedicated “Apps” vertical.
Although Quixey may not be a household name, so to speak, that’s by design – the company doesn’t offer a consumer-facing service the way Apple acquisition Chomp once did. Instead, Quixey works with various partners, including OEMs, carriers, web platforms, browsers, and others to power their own app search services. The company recently began powering app recommendations in Skyfire’s new “Horizon” toolbar, for example, and it also works with partners like Vodafone, StarHub, Maxthon, Stream Media, Mark/Space, and even more that it’s not allowed to name.
That being said, today’s launch with Ask.com is the first time Quixey has integrated with a search company, Quixey CEO Tomer Kagan tells us. Ask.com may not have a large percentage of the search market – only 3.1 percent of the search business in the U.S. – but users will often end up on Ask without fully realizing it. Although some do go there directly, many others find themselves on Ask by following links posted elsewhere (including on Google, where Ask is Google’s second-biggest advertiser).
Incidentally, Google also offers its own “Applications” vertical, but there’s no dedicated URL for it – it’s tucked away under the “More” menu beneath the search box on results pages.
The Ask.com integration fits in with Quixey’s overall strategy to improve app discoverability by powering app search across platforms. “We want to be where users already go,” says Kagan. “What we want to prove is that when people go to these locations and they’re looking for answers, there are apps that can solve those answers just as well as or better than those ten blue links.”
What makes Quixey’s search service different from other, often consumer-facing, efforts in this space is the amount of data and the search technology behind it. Its index currently has 1.5 million applications total, or 1.2 million to 1.3 million if you de-dupe it for the same app in multiple stores. “Overlap isn’t as high as you’d imagine,” Kagan notes.
Instead of simply indexing the app stores and apps’ ratings, the service takes in hundreds of different signals. These include things like articles and reviews of apps and where they come from, tweets, the amount of ratings an app has, how many times an app is linked to from another app, rankings, ratings on iOS or Android and elsewhere, and more. In addition, it’s able to understand the relative significance of an app. For example, an app about managing your diabetes may have never been ranked in the top 10 in the App Store, but the person searching wouldn’t care about that – they’re just looking for the best one to suit their needs.
This deep understanding of apps and how they’re related is coming into play in the Ask.com integration. In addition to the search results, Ask.com will also show related searches, other questions you might ask (e.g. other ways to form your query), similar questions others have asked, and more. Users will also be able to filter searches by platform (iOS, Android, RIM, and Windows Phone 8) and price.
After clicking on a search result to see more, Ask.com will show related apps in the sidebar (helpful for finding all the various editions of Angry Birds, for example!), and it links to “other editions” where you can see all platforms on a single page. To download an app, just click the button provided to be directed to the appropriate app store.
Kagan says he can’t disclose how the monetization here works, but Quixey itself doesn’t deal in affiliate revenue. “For partners, we monetize together,” he says. “But that’s something we haven’t announced yet. There’s a pretty cool project around monetization that isn’t ready to launch.” He says that the Ask.com results are currently monetized “in a way,” but he can’t disclose any more than that right now.
As for Quixey, the company itself has been growing consistently, and following its Series B, has grown its headcount to 50 – up from 30 this summer. And the company is continually hiring. Kagan sees an unlimited potential for app search and discovery, too. “I really do believe that for almost any question on the web, there is an app that can be used to answer that question,” he says.
Ask.com will flip on its integrations today at 8 PM ET.