They may be quickies of a different kind, but a rendezvous between Microsoft and New York-based startup Qwiki has brought the young company’s interactive video presentations to search results for faster, more pleasing experiences.
Beginning Tuesday, Bing’s search engine will feature “qwikis,” or machine-generated video presentations on reference topics, attached to Wikipedia page results. So whenever a Wikipedia entry is surfaced in search results, the searcher can click to watch a video that talks her through the topic in question.
“When we started this company, we looked at the search page and said … ‘there should really be a play button next to each result,’ and it’s incredible to make that vision come alive,” Qwiki co-founder and CEO Doug Imbruce told VentureBeat. “For the first time, the two biggest trends in Internet history, search and video, are combining into this incredibly powerful platform.”
Two year-old Qwiki, which has raised $10.5 million in funding to date, makes technology that pulls rich media content from web data sources to automatically build video presentations on reference topics. The company’s web and iPad products are accessed by roughly 1 million people per month.
After a year of radio silence, the startup released the Qwiki Creator in late May to help publishers create their own qwikis. Today, that tool exits beta and goes live for all. The startup is also today releasing an API that enables content creators to mass produce qwikis from their own content. Together, Creator and the API are essential tools for Qwiki’s future success, as they should add much-needed color (ie. content beyond reference topics) and range to the startup’s database of qwikis.
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But right now, the Bing-Qwiki deal is the most profound as it exposes the startup’s video machinations to millions of searchers in a way that feels just right. The partnership brings the best of what Qwiki does right now — Wikipedia-like video presentations on reference topics — to Bing, making informational videos native to search and empowering the searcher to get more from the results page. As such, the tie-in nicely compliments Bing’s recent search-plus-social endeavors.
Qwiki’s video presentations in Bing will only work on the web for now, but mobile support is coming soon, Imbruce said.
The relationship between Microsoft and Qwiki, forged roughly one year ago when Bing development lead Franco Salvetti reached out to the startup, is not exclusive, Imbruce said. No money is changing hands in the deal either. But both of those factors could change in the months ahead as Qwiki builds out its database, with the help of publishers, and works to turn any search result into an interactive experience, he added.
“Over these summer months, we’re finally completing the vision … of a 360-degree publishing platform,” said Imbruce. “I think the embedding-side of Bing proves that we can create the kind of massive scale and distribution that can help us change, and forever improve, the way the world gets information.”
Part of that vision includes an consumer-facing Qwiki iPhone application that device owners can use to create qwikis from their own mobile media. Expect that application to drop some time in August.
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