Over at Search Engine Watch, Brian Smith takes a deep look in to Microsoft’s answer to Ask.com Smart Answers and Yahoo Shortcuts; Live.com Instant Answers.
After only a couple minutes, we dove into some of Microsoft’s Instant Answers, which really did turn out to be points of delight. The first example we looked at was ‘Chicago Bears’ which didn’t just return a link to Fox Sports’ Bears team page and a some headlines, but a Bears logo, stats for the season (the Bears are 6-0, 3-0 at home, 3-0 away, and number 1 in their division), and a visually attractive quarter-by-quarter breakdown of last week’s game against the Cardinals (Bears won 24-23 on a big comeback in the second half). Chris and Irving talked about the presentation of the data being an important factor in delivering Instant Answers. This is definitely a theme throughout a lot of the examples we discussed.
Sticking with the sports Instant Answers, Chris and Irving told me that the Instant Answers team had concentrated on low hanging fruit. The sports scores Live.com provides for a specific date is a perfect example. Type in ‘MLB 5/22‘, and the Instant Answer returns all the major league baseball scores for May 22. Type in ‘College Football 10/7‘ or ‘NFL 10/8‘ and the Instant Answer returns all the college football or all the national football league results for those dates.
Searches can also enter in the name of a player and get statistics (‘Barry Bonds‘, ‘Tiki Barber‘). As a sports fan, this information easily impressed me… although I was a little upset that the NHL wasn’t included. I’m sure it will pop up soon.
As opposed to Ask’s Smart Answers (featured last week) which freely links to 3rd party informational databases, Microsoft relies heavily on its very close partners or sister companies to deliver the data for Instant Answers. The sports Instant Answers highlighted above are provided by Fox Sports.