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blinkx 'good enough to scare Google'

Search engines are our gateways to the internet - and can be worth billions to their creators. But since Google crushed its rivals in the late Nineties, there has been a dearth of genuinely new search technologies.

But San Franciscan start-up blinkx has the right idea: it specialises in video - not Google’s strongest suit - and has some sharp technology up its sleeve. blinkx recently outpaced Google Video in Britain, and shares jumped last month with rumours that Google was eyeing the company for takeover. blinkx already indexes 26m hours of video and has 350 partners around the world, including Channel 4, the BBC and YouTube.

The site works as a simplifier for web video -bringing you video news, TV shows, niche ‘blog TV’ and all the usual YouTube insanity direct from one search box.

Rather than searching videos by titles or descriptive text, it converts the soundtrack into text and searches that, too. blinkx’s TV deals deliver up-to-theminute news content: a blinkx search for Universal Studio fire, current news at the time of writing, brought up fresher videos than search engines such as Google Video and Truveo. blinkx also scores heavily over its rivals when it comes to British news, especially sport.

For how-tos, trailers, music videos or any other less time-specific content, though, blinkx is no better than YouTube. It’s even less clear that blinkx is useful for TV shows. BBTV requires a download, works on PCs only and uses copyprotected videos, some of which you have to pay for.

However, you can search for text within video soundtracks, which could be superb with news or documentaries. If you could jump to the moment you want from the blinkx’s front page, the site would be revolutionary.

At the moment, blinkx feels like two separate creatures. But if they merge, Google should either worry - or reach for the chequebook.