I remember vividly my excitement and joy when I first heard about Qwiki. Qwiki is basically a search service so why was I excited since there were already a plethora of search sites like Google, Ask, Yahoo just name it out there. I was excited because Qwiki wasn’t just like another search service – it is a multimedia search engine. If you make a search query, it doesn’t return hyperlinks to other sites like the way its predecessors did instead it returns a neat video slide with an audio commentary. Wow! This makes search so much easier. There are no hyperlinks to click – this amazing technology does the work for you by filtering out the absolute information you need. It removes the possibilities of clicking dead hyperlinks that lead to broken pages and also the need to manually filter the information you need by going through a number of pages.
One other thing that got me excited about Qwiki then was the amount of attention that got from investors including controversial Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin. Qwiki also got the attention it required from media giants like CNN. Qwiki had a lot of things going well for it including an outstanding technology, great founders, awesome engineering and design teams, great PR and also a lot of money in the bank. They were set to disrupt the online search market and truly the sky was their limit or at least so I thought.
Although I was one of the early adopters of Qwiki, I saw some of its disadvantages earlier on. The major disadvantage is that Qwiki is most suitable for searching facts, books, people, events, history and other similar information but it fails woefully if you are researching about a controversial issue, performing an opinion based search or any other type of information that varies. Also when the service was first launched, the site was still building up its database so some search queries didn’t give adequate or any information at all. However they made up for this by allowing users to help populate their database just like the way Wikipedia does. Users could edit the information displayed. Another disadvantage of Qwiki then for me was that it is bandwidth intensive. Unlike the other search engines it requires a lot of client side processing and also more data are needed to be downloaded. Since quality and reliable internet service still eludes some of us in this part of the world (Africa), it was going to be difficult to use this search engine without having a considerable impact on my network bandwidth
I spread the information of Qwiki amongst my friends who weren’t as excited about it as I was though. I was hoping Qwiki will become the next popular search engine of choice for a lot of people. Then that was 2011 – a year ago, now this is 2012 and Qwiki hasn’t taken over the online search market yet. Also these days social search is favoured over algorithmic search. Nowadays people prefer their friends’ recommendations. Social network sites like Facebook and Twitter have also made this possible even without making it obvious to their users. No wonder Google is making its search results more social by favouring search results from Google+. This strategy has even put them in a highly controversial position but they have refused to relent in their efforts to make their search results more social.
The future looks bleak for Qwiki right now except they come up with a superior strategy that will probably make their search more social. I am however an opportunist in this situation. I believe Qwiki will get it right with their future strategies and product improvement decisions. What do you think?