Demand for improved integrated desktop search functionality is surging, adding extra complications to the long-running battle to control computer desktops.
IDC said that MSN's recent acquisition of Lookout Software, Google's much-heralded new desktop search, Apple's announcement of search capabilities in its Tiger platform, and Microsoft's intention eventually to embed search in all its desktop and operating system software, all point to this market heating up.
According to the analyst firm, the developments are fuelling interest in search technology and adding a new dimension to the features that end-users demand.
"Information finding has clearly become one of the central activities of online life," said Susan Feldman, research vice president for content management and retrieval solutions at IDC.
"With major software vendors beginning to pay attention to the expanded role that search has assumed, this market is only beginning to see the changes that the next five years will bring."
IDC's newly published report, Jousting for the Desktop Search Market: Why Search Vendors Should Enter the Lists, noted that email search in particular not only generates a new source of advertising revenue, but can position vendors for the next fight to dominate the desktop.
Despite the surge, questions regarding the privacy of desktop data remain, according to the study.
If the desktop product integrates web searches with searching the hard drive, and generates revenue based on the searches performed, then IDC questions whether it is conceivable for the web search engine to track the contents of the hard drive.
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