Looking for an apartment online, day after day, can get tedious. Finding the right sofa at the right price can also be time consuming. A new search engine, called Yotify, is designed to make these kinds of persistent quests more tolerable, and hopefully more successful.
Much like Google Alerts and Yahoo Alerts, a Yotify search does not start and end in an instant. Instead, the search runs at regular intervals–either hourly or daily, depending on the user’s preference–with results sent back to the user via e-mail.
But Yotify offers much more than the search giants’ current alert tools, argues Ron Bouganim, CEO and cofounder of Branchnext, the San Francisco startup behind Yotify. Those alert tools, Bouganim says, are merely an afterthought for these huge companies, and they do not take into account important Web 2.0 developments, such as social networking.
“We want to create a richer experience,” Bouganim says.
When users sign up for an account, they are given a personal profile page that lists, stores, and displays what they’ve searched for and where. That information can be made public as well, so that friends can share the results and help refine the search. This could be particularly useful for group projects such as apartment hunting with roommates, for example.
Meanwhile, Yotify is making it a point to closely integrate with the major social-networking sites, most notably Facebook and LinkedIn. “If people want to search through Facebook using our technology, we want to let them do it,” claims Bouganim.
Another distinguishing characteristic of Yotify versus Google Alerts or Yahoo Alerts is its focus on shopping. Whereas Google Alerts is primarily concerned with retrieving news and other hard information, Yotify is setting up as more of a sales tool for its partner sites, which include general retailers such as Shopping.com as well as a host of niche players.
In this respect, Yotify does go above and beyond what Google Alerts currently provides. Say a user wants to buy a black futon, for example. The important aspect of the search is not that the user obtain the futon immediately, but that it’s a certain price. Yotify will continually monitor its partner sites, then notify the user when a black futon is available at that particular price.
The main problem with Yotify is that, as of now, it only scans a small portion of the Web: users can only search among Yotify’s partner sites. While the search engine has partnered with many key websites, such as Craigslist, the New York Times, and eBay, it certainly does not have the breadth of a search giant such as Google or Yahoo.
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