“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them” – Berlin app-lovers Xyo are taking Steve Jobs’ oft-quoted advice to heart with their new social search platform for mobile apps, rolled out last night.
The new platform is built on the same technology as before but with all-new design and new feature “Apps for Me” that taps into you and your friends’ Facebook Likes to deliver personalised recommendations.
Those recommendations are hit and miss right now, but that’s likely to work itself out over time. Yesterday’s relaunch is part of bigger plans to create a search engine that can deliver useful answers even if users don’t know what they’re after.
“We launch with an integration that looks into your real life interests on Facebook,” as the company put it yesterday. “But we will integrate in every platform that will help surface the things the user needs with as little input data on his side as possible.”
Xyo – cooking up new app search technology in Berlin
Xyo’s underlying technology sorts iOS, Android and Windows Phone apps into 720 app interests – many times more than the native categories used by major app stores – using a proprietary ranking algorithm.
It sorts apps into related interests, which means you can type in something as vague as “sleep” and end up exploring a wide range of interesting possibilities (alarm clocks, relaxation sounds, sleep assistance etc).
It also helps surface apps that might otherwise be missed. According to Xyo, the major app stores’ emphasis on leaderboards ends up pushing 90 per cent of downloads to just 10 per cent of listed apps. Its own search platform, it says, is able to spread 90 per cent of downloads across 75 per cent of listed apps.
The team’s been working on this since at least 2010, when Matthaus Krzykowski, Zoe Adamovicz and Marcin Rudolf (left to right, above) founded app analytics company Xyologic. The company made its name through regular free app download reports and paid consultancy work. Now, it’s passed that work to sister company Priori and relaunched as Xyo to focus fully on search and discovery.
Still to come – Krzykowski told VentureBeat the company plans to release paid search ad products and new developer tools later this year.
As well as a licensing agreement with Priori, Xyo is backed by an undisclosed sum of venture capital from Rick Thompson’s Signia Venture Partners, Klaas Kersting and SoundCloud cofounder Eric Wahlforss. Other companies – apart from Google and Apple – working on app search include Quixey, which raised a $20 million Series B round in 2012, and mobile apps AppCurious (iOS) and AppUpdate (Android).
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