Watch out Google, here comes SPH Search - Aug 11, 2007 (ST)

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The Straits Times / The Business Times News On SPH

Watch out Google, here comes SPH Search

New online search engine being developed by SPH aims to be the first port of call for people anywhere in the world who want content about S'pore.

By Gabriel Chen
Aug 11, 2007
The Straits Times

A NEW online search engine being developed by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) aims to be the first port of call for people anywhere in the world who want content about Singapore.

SPH will launch the service next year, which aims to supplant the big names of Google and Yahoo as the prime tool to source local information.

TOAST TO NEW SET-UP: Celebrating the official opening of SPH Search's office are (from left) Mr Joseph Lee, CEO of 701Search; Mr Leslie Fong, SPH's executive vice-president of marketing and chairman of 701Search; Mr Alan Chan, CEO of SPH; Ms Chua, SPH Search's chairman; and Mr Jansen, CEO of SPH Search. Photo/ CHEW SENG KIM

Mr Paul Jansen, chief executive of SPH Search, the unit running the service, said yesterday: 'When you go to websites like Google, they give you millions of results but in today's society, you don't have time. If you're looking for information that is not on Singapore, you can use any search engine. But when you're searching for something on Singapore, there is no search engine that will be as relevant as ours.'

Mr Jansen, who was speaking at the opening of the unit's Toa Payoh office, said the search engine will be free and in English but other languages may be used in the future, depending on the response.

He also gave updates on SPH Search's other business - directory services, which will provide a 'comprehensive database' of local information.

The directories will pull together all SPH's databases, drawing on 'enormous pieces of information' including those gleaned from people who buy its newspapers or magazines, such as e-mail addresses.

Such information will be made available only if users have consented to it being shared, Mr Jansen said.

SPH Search began a nation-wide data collection exercise last month. Information is being compiled from newspapers and magazines, people who have taken part in SPH contests, firms that have provided data and website subscribers.

SPH Search chairman Elsie Chua said a Singapore-based Web index will let users search 'very localised content'. She added: 'We will want to make sure such content is accurate, updated and relevant for Singaporeans to use.'

SPH Search, which also unveiled its corporate logo yesterday, is a joint venture between SPH and Norwegian media group Schibstead.

Occupying the same premises will be 701Search, another joint venture that will identify potential investment in online classified advertisements, search and directories across South-east Asia and Greater China.