Google challenger you.com today announced an open platform for search, ushering in a new stage in the evolution of how we use the Internet. Launched a year ago with the aim of putting users in control of their search experience, you.com has now reached well over 1 million actively searching users, with searches increasing by over 400% in the last 6 months.
With the open platform for search, application developers—after being approved by you.com—can create their own custom applications (referred to by you.com as “search apps”) for the search results page and the growing you.com community to use . This benefits both users and developers, says Richard Socher, co-founder and CEO of you.com: “Users are in control and receive a better product tailored to their needs, while developers gain visibility and revenue for their work.”
There are currently more than 200 first-party apps on you.com that allow users to find summarized information or complete a task without leaving the results page. For example, summaries of information on major forums like Reddit, StackOverflow, GitHub, or recipes that allow for quick skimming and answers to coding problems, discussions, or ingredients.
With the growing prevalence of AI applications, especially the generative AI variety, you.com presents apps that have never been seen in traditional search engines. These AI-powered applications allow users to generate text (YouWrite), code (YouCode), or images (YouImagine) from text prompts within the search results page.
You.com has already integrated 15 apps from external developers, and 130 more are in the pipeline. For example, ListenNotes, a podcast search engine that displays notes and audio transcripts by person, place, or topic from the web’s most comprehensive podcast database; and Looria, which finds, aggregates and summarizes 1000 reviews and prices of organic products. You.com ranks the apps for users, but users can also change this ranking and even block apps entirely. Some search apps generate revenue for the developers and you.com through an affiliate model.
channeling Back to the Future, I suggested to Socher that he build a web “portal”. But unlike the ontology-driven version of the 1990s, the new gateway to the Internet is action-oriented and serves as the home for a significant portion of our online activity. Socher didn’t disagree, but said one of his friends described it as an operating system for the internet on which all the apps sit. “I hope that at some point in the future every company will have a web app, an Android app, an iPhone app, and a you.com app,” says Socher.
Some observers who participated in the animated discussion of the hits and misses of the recently released ChatGPT have suggested that this spells the end of search as we know it. Krishna Gade, for example, told CNBC that if ChatGPT continues to grow in popularity along with other chat-based question-answering tools, Google may need to update its core search technology to focus more on chat.
Google, on the other hand, already provides facts and direct answers on the search results page. A May 2022 Semrush study found that 25.6% of Google desktop searches ended without a click on another web property.
“Portals” are the future of search. Since you.com has already integrated generative AI-based apps like Stable Diffusion, there’s no doubt that a chat-like “search app” will be added to its search results page sometime in the next year. Given all the apps or information sources it covers, it could also offer a chat feature, which will address some of the current shortcomings of ChatGPT, whose knowledge base will end in 2021.
The future of search has arrived in the form of an open dashboard for managing our digital lives. “Gone are the days of a single monolith controlling what we see online and selling our data while making trillions of dollars and hoarding the profits for itself,” says Socher.