It’s called real-time search, but no player in the rapidly expanding market can actually deliver search results instantly. Collecta, a new search engine led by AOL (NYSE: TWX) and Reuters search veteran Gerry Campbell that launches in beta today, says its service comes very close. It returns results that are often several seconds ahead of its real-time search competitors — enough time to make a difference to someone interested in watching a news story as it unfolds or follow a live event. (Campbell says there could be utility in finance too.) Results are pulled from various sites, including Twitter, WordPress, Flickr and YouTube. Once a user makes a query, a stream of constantly updating results shows up.
Collecta is the latest entrant in a real-time search field that seems to be adding players by the day. In fact, the site is one of two real-time search startups that went public Thursday and, by our count, one of five to launch over the last five weeks. The other new site as of Thursday is CrowdEye, run by former Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) Search GM Ken Moss. Twitter, too, has plans to beef up its own search service, and Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is also expected to launch its own microblog search engine soon. (Independent of any specialized microblog search, co-founder Larry Page has also said he wants to index the web “every second.”)
Campbell says he expects that Collecta, which is backed by $2 million from True Ventures, will eventually get competitors that will match its speed — validating the company’s approach. He notes, for instance, that the company uses an open-source instant-messaging protocol called XMPP to get its results fast. (It also doesn’t rank results by relevance, which helps.) XMPP happens also to be behind Google’s forthcoming Wave communications tool. “Google has the resources to do this and I think anybody who doesn’t plan for that is probably missing a trick somewhere.” But, he said, there is room for more than one player in a market that is just “beginning.”