Human-powered search engine ChaCha has hung on (let’s face it) longer than anyone thought possible. Although it abandoned guided web-based search almost two years ago, ChaCha is still thriving in the mobile Q&A market. Back in December, they raised $7M in funding—and it looks like the ultimate result of that cash was an API and a Facebook app.
Yep—ChaCha’s getting into social search. The Facebook app takes questions users post to friends and connections and broadcasts them to ChaCha. The app checks the database of pre-loaded answers to see if they’ve already covered that topic.
Definitely not an app I’m interested in. I’ve joked with friends in Gmail chat that Google should just popup with the answer to any of our factual questions right in our chat window. But really, we definitely wouldn’t appreciate the intrusion (even if we were just going to google that same question in a minute anyway—although TechCrunch doesn’t clarify whether ChaCha actually supplies the answer or just suggests that it might already know the answer). Most of the questions I pose my social network are going to be opinion-based, rather than factual—so ChaCha’s can’t to help there.
However, ChaCha has also turned this into a kind of game—the more participating questions you answer, the more points you get. They’ve also added a number of social features, including the option to have an “Ask ChaCha” box on your profile, share questions and their answers on selected friends’ walls and more.
Meanwhile, ChaCha has also developed an API to allow other developers to interface with their Q&A database. They’re also the #1 SMS search service, according to Nielsen Mobile, answering more than a million SMS questions a day.
What do you think? Should ChaCha even count as a “search engine” since they’re serving up solely structured data? Do you use ChaCha, and will you use their new apps and APIs?