I got a demo today of a new mobile video search product called Vtap, from Veveo. It's hardly the only video search engine out there (see Blinkx, Truveo [review], and Google), but it has special powers on mobile devices. In fact, it's mobile-only. Despite a Web-based version that the company created for the iPhone, you can't access the service on a non-mobile browser.
CEO Murali Aravamudan told me that his service does not dive into the actual audio or video content of files to create its search index. Rather, it uses the metadata (tags, and text on the page where the file is hosted) to create its video index. This method seems to work just fine. Vtap returns outstanding results. In my tests, it found more good hits than any other engine I used, regarless of platform. It also returns results as you type, and does a very good job ranking results even with incomplete queries.
I spent time with the Vtap app (a download) on my Blackjack. The live search makes it very fast to use, and the player does a good job playing most video formats you'll find on the Web. The app also has a tab to search Wikipedia, a nice bonus.
On the iPhone, the Web-based Vtap user experience is less compelling, although the search results are the same. I found the interface clunkier and response time slower, even on when connected over WiFi (forget about it on the iPhone's EDGE network). Also, the iPhone doesn't have native support for all the formats Windows phones do, so some files have to be transcoded on Vtap's servers before they will play, which puts a click-and-wait delay into the system.
The Vtap service will be released on September 10th. If you have a Windows smartphone or an Apple iPhone, I highly recommend going to the site now to sign up for a reminder. This service rocks.
I pressed Aravamudan on his plans for a Web site accessible to desktop and laptop users, and he was adamant about not wanting to get into that business. But he did let on that his company will follow up with a Web-based video search site a few weeks after the mobile version is released. Veveo also sells its technology to device manufacturers and to cable TV operators.