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News Search Engines Add Features

Inform Technologies LLC and Digg.com are betting they can make money by helping people find more of the news they want.

Inform's chief executive officer, Neal Goldman, announced the addition of audio and video to his sophisticated and free news search service at Inform.com.

Jay Adelson, CEO at Digg.com, said his venture is ready to move beyond technology to other categories including sports and business news.

Inform's Goldman said improvements to the site make it "the most precise and comprehensive video news search tool that exists." Results include audio files, such as segments from National Public Radio and video clips from sources including Reuters. Searches can be turned into RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds with a few clicks. "Our objective is to help you get the news you want, where you want it and how you want it, all on one screen" Goldman said in an interview.

Digg.com's CEO told MediaPost it has reached a "critical mass" of users that can support a broader service. Currently, Digg.com displays tech news stories based on readers' recommendations. The more "votes" an item receives, the more prominent its display on the site. Adelson, the CEO, believes Digg.com is also faster than other news services, because "A search engine relies on crawling technology (scouring Web sites)." People casting votes after doing their own Web surfing, are likely to discover fresh, interesting, items more quickly, he said. Adelson gave no timetable for Digg.com's expansion.

Rhapsody plays the Web

RealNetworks (RNWK) is preparing to introduce a free version of its Rhapsody subscription-based music service that can be accessed over the Web. It currently requires subscribers to download proprietary software. Rhapsody on the Web will let visitors listen to 25 individual tracks a month and to stream the service's full catalog, but not download or purchase tracks. It will also be an option in Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows Media Player 10. Real also will make it possible for Web sites to link to individual songs for playing free by visitors.