Izik: The New Search Kid On the Block
More than a few companies have tried to take market share away from Google but, so far, Google is still "king of the hill." That's not stopping Blekko from trying yet again to innovate where it thinks Google is getting stale. The target? Mobile search. Yes, Google has a mobile search platform, but it mostly just resembles the desktop version. What is Blekko doing differently?
It's Not PC Search
First things first, Izik isn't PC search. When you hop onto Google with your mobile device, the first thing you'll notice is that it's basically just like searching on your desktop. The only difference is that the text feels cramped - it can be excruciating. Especially when you're trying to scroll and tap your way to a fun Saturday evening.
A mobile-friendly search function might provide a cleaner interface with a faster loading time but, so far, there's no indication that Google's rushing anything to market so Blekko is swimming alone in this space for now. It's reportedly designed "from the ground up," and offers users a radically new way to search the web.
A New Layout Made For Mobile
Instead of the usual vertical view, Izik uses a "federated" view (horizontal), relies heavily on images, and segregates search results into categories. I found it pretty easy to find what I was looking for and it's intuitive which I like.
Users swipe or scroll horizontally to see more search results than what's initially displayed on-screen. Alternatively, they can expand any individual category to see more results or content. The nice thing about Izik is that it actually does a decent job of searching the web. It often returns more information than Google's mobile search. Not only that, because Izik relies on images, is makes the search function visually more appealing and accessible.
While there are many things to like about Izik, there are also a couple of issues with the new search engine. First, in some cases, Izik didn't have the most updated version of a news story. That's problematic if you like reading the morning news on your tablet. For some people, that's going to be a deal-breaker.
Though it's likely that Blekko will sort this issue out and improve the search engine over time. Image results are decent, but still not up to par with Google's image search. Local business information is also more readily accessible on Google's mobile search (i.e. phone numbers and addresses). Again, this problem could be sorted out in the future but, right now, Google still wins in this category. That shouldn't be a surprise though. Google has spent a lot of money on its mobile platform. Finally, one thing Google still has going for it is name recognition. It's hard to break into this space, so non-tech-savvy users are largely unaware of Blekko. Izik is likely to be even more obscure since Google is the default search provider on a lot of devices.
That said, Izik is dead-simple to use, and the search box is big enough that even the meatiest of thumbs shouldn't have trouble using it. Izik uses Blekko's search chassis, so if you like using Blekko you'll like Izik.
Still, it might take some getting used to. If you're switching over from Google's mobile search, you're going to notice that search results "pop" more, have more information packed into your screen, yet it's is easier to navigate once you get used to the horizontal layout. Right now, Izik is totally free of ads, but it has plans to be ad-supported. Whether that clutters up search results remains to be seen. Hopfully Blekko gets it right. So far, it plans to offer relevant display and rich media ads in a directional or search context. Theoretically, this should be more visually appealing and engage users more than traditional display ads.