Groxis breaks down wall, or at least a little of it

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Groxis, the San Francisco maker of the Grokker search engine software program, is apparently tearing down the subscription wall on part of its offering — and it’s probably a good move. The NYT reports it here. Grokker displays a Web search as a series of categories set in a large circle on the page. (We have a diagram above, but this page explains more. Type something into the search bar at www.Grokker.com to get the basic idea.)

Until now, Groxis has charged a subscription for its desktop software, which incorporates search results from many sources. As we understand the NYT story, this latest move apparently only frees up a version with Yahoo results.

We’ve played with Grokker in the past, and wrote about it here, and here. We were intrigued by it, seeing its value, but not enough to shell out the $49 subscription for it, especially since we use various free search engines, and for tougher searches, have subscriptions to things like Lexis-Nexis…

[Update: See Anon’s second comment below; we’d be interested in feedback too]

And Grokker’s quirky interface takes some getting used to. Sort of unconsciously, we’d assigned it to the also-ran heap. But beginning tomorrow, the company will begin allowing computer users to view Yahoo search results with its technology via a Java plug-in for standard browsers, according to the Times. It will rely on advertising supplied by Yahoo.

“We’re not intent on replacing Google or Yahoo,” said R. J. Pittman, the chief executive of Groxis. “This is if you want to go deeper.”

(Footnote: The NYT quotes Michael Keller, head librarian with Stanford University as saying: “It has gotten rave reviews.” The NYT does say Keller is an advisor to Groxis. But as we wrote here, Stanford was planning to invest last time we talked with Keller in December. We don’t know for sure whether the investment went through, but if it did, Stanford wouldn’t be the most objective.)