Performing Web searches on a mobile devices is often a fiddly experience that involves flipping between multiple apps and tabs in a single window. (I usually end up juggling my smartphone and tablet to use an app and surf the Internet at the same time). Japanese startup Studio Ousia wants to make mobile searches less tedious for users with its new SDK Linkify.
Linkify, which is now taking sign-ups for its iOS version’s private beta program (an SDK for Android is coming soon and other mobile platforms are in the works), is designed for apps with a lot of text, including news readers like Flipboard. Its machine learning algorithm finds keywords and turns them into links. When a user clicks on that link, a window pops up with results from a search engine or site like Wikipedia. This means they don’t have to open a new tab or get redirected to a browser or another app.
In addition to improving user experience, Linkify can help developers in two ways. First, it encourages people stay longer in an app. Second, Linkify gives developers the option of monetizing through Google Ad Sense by letting them include contextual ads within search results. One of the SDK’s key features is a machine learning algorithm developed by Studio Ousia that pinpoints keywords and then generates relevant links. This means that developers don’t have to pick out words one-by-one, and by linking the most relevant terms, Linkify encourages more users to click on them (and hopefully the contextual ads they find in search results).
“Detecting keywords is still challenging. There are keywords such as Japan that are less helpful for users than specific keywords like Kyoto,” says co-founder Ikuya Yamada. “So we come up with ways to distinguish them from similar parts of speech or words that have similar meanings.”
Based in Tokyo, Studio Ousia developed Linkify because mobile search is a potentially lucrative market, with research firm Bia/Kelsey estimating that the number of mobile searches will exceed desktop searches by 2015. The company’s goal is “enhancing the mobile browsing experience,” Yamada says, which includes touch screen devices as well as mobile search products that used augmented reality supported by the Semantic Web.
Studio Ousia is still looking at monetization strategies for Linkify, which might include taking a cut of ad revenue generated by apps using the SDK. The startup has received about 100 million yen (or about USD $970,000) in funding from Nissay Capital and Seed Technology Capital Partners.