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blinkx Debuts Mobile Video Search

Known for its online video search engine, Blinkx is now trying to wend its way into the mobile market.

The video search provider announced Wednesday a beta of a new Web site designed to let people find and play videos through their mobile devices. The new mobile site is geared toward any phone that has a Web browser and can play MP4 files, such as the Apple iPhone, Palm Pre, and Google Nexus One, among several others.

Differing from its standard Web site, Blinkx’s new site is optimized to display on a smaller device, the company said. A video wall offers nine thumbnails of the top news stories from across the Web—clicking on any of them leads to a video on that specific item. You can also browse a list of top videos by topic, including entertainment, technology, money, and sports.

But like its big brother, the new site’s core feature is its search capability. Search for a word or phrase, and Blinkx will display a list of links to relevant videos from different broadcast and media providers hosted elsewhere on the Web. The videos are streamed directly to your mobile device and pop up in any media player that supports MP4 files, such as Apple’s QuickTime.

“The number of handsets that are video-enabled has reached critical mass, and combined with the prevalence of high-speed mobile networks and new flat-rate data plans, mobile video finally makes sense for both consumers and media companies,” Blinkx founder and CEO Suranga Chandratillake said in a statement. “Blinkx’s extensive and varied library of shorter form, snackable video is the ideal format for consumption on-the-go.”

Blinkx is one of a number of sites that offer video searching on the Web, but it continues to expand periodically by kicking in new features such as music video searches, a desktop screensaver, and a service to help you track down full-length TV episodes.

Started in 2004, the company launched its video search in 2005 before going public in 2007. For the fiscal year ended this past March 31, Blinkx managed to slightly trim its net loss to $8.5 million from $8.8 million for the prior year, while sales shot up 140 percent to $33.6 million from $13.9 million a year ago (PDF). Gross profit also rose to $21.9 million from $9.8 million in the previous year.

Though the company was hit by higher operating costs, especially in research and development, it continues to see its video service catch on with more users. For the year, video streams rose by 186 percent in both the U.S. and the U.K., while daily video searches jumped 169 percent to 22.6 million this past March versus 8.4 million per day in March 2009.

The company said it also cut new distribution deals with partners such as, for which it provides video searching, and Brazilian media company ELO, for which it’s creating a broadband TV offering.

But advertising revenue has been a key factor, especially this past year, as Blinkx saw a 112 percent gain in the number of brands that advertise with its service. With online video a hot market for advertising, Blinkx said it expects its business to further grow based on this momentum.