Rich Skrenta and team at blekko are launching “izik,” a new tablet search engine (and browser) designed to deliver a “from the ground up,” tablet friendly search experience. You can also use it on the PC; however the experience is best on a tablet.
In my briefing about Izik with blekko’s Skrenta and Mike Markson in December they repeatedly made the point that PC search/Google is not well adapted to the limitations and opportunities of the new device.
Google has incrementally sought to make the SERP more tablet friendly but it still does largely resemble the PC experience. By contrast izik relies heavily on images and presents results in a category or “federated” view.
Users swipe or scroll horizontally to see more results in each category or can expand any individual category to see more content. I compared a wide range of search queries and results on izik to Google and found that izik immediately surfaced more information and made it more visually accessible.
There were a few areas were izik didn’t perform quite as well as Google in my brief tests: recent news, image search and local.
In some cases izik didn’t have the most updated version of a news story (e.g., Google-FTC antitrust settlement). In the case of images, izik offered a nice selection but fewer of them than Google image search, if that’s a consideration. And local business content wasn’t quite as as “utilitarian” in certain cases (i.e., phone numbers, addresses, maps were more quickly available on Google).
However izik was easy and more pleasing to use and is a very viable Google alternative right out of the box. It will also improve over time. The technology and index behind izik are the same as that which power blekko.
The following are some side-by-side comparisons of izik and Google results for the same queries:
Query: “Washington Redskins”
Query: “Kate Middleton”
As you can see, the izik pages “pop” more and are easier to navigate visually. There’s more information on the page than with page 1 of Google. Buttons or tabs on the bottom enable users to quickly navigate through the different categories of results. Overall it’s a strong user experience.
Other than the several critical observations above, I didn’t do a deep comparison of relevance across a broad array of queries (e.g., head vs. tail). However the izik results I saw were in all cases relevant to my searches.
To some degree whether you prefer the layout and presentation of izik vs. the more familiar UI of Google will be a matter of taste. But Skrenta and company have done a nice job with design. (It’s even improved over an earlier version I saw.)
There’s an interesting advertising opportunity as well. Izik will eventually be ad supported. Here the opportunity is to include relevant display and rich media ads in a directional/search context, making them more likely to draw response and engagement than conventional display ads.
Download the app or test izik on the mobile web and compare it to Google. Let us know whether you agree or disagree with my remarks.
Below is a video tour of izik.