As more and more sites launch their own development platforms, we've been slowly starting to see a trend of applications trying to make the jump outside of the platform to which they owe their roots and try to make it as standalone sites or multi-site applications. We saw the Where I've Been Facebook application make the jump to MySpace in September, and attempt to build an external travel destination site.
Last night, the Clever Hippo search engine, a Facebook application that helps search and rate other Facebook applications (see AltSearchEngine's coverage) soft-launched the new version of their vertical search engine at CleverHippo.org. The site has expanded beyond the friendly confines of Facebook, and now searches applications from a wide variety of web platforms. The site currenctly indexes apps for Facebook, OpenSocial, HTML (i.e., MySpace, Netvibes, iGoogle, etc.), iPhone, and Windows and OS X desktop. It looks like Clever Hippo currently indexes 31,166 applications.
The site seeds their search directory from public app directories and from developers who can manually index their applications. Search results can be sorted by relevance, recency, and popularity -- the latter of which is based on Digg-style voting that Clever Hippo enables on each entry. For many apps, the site also provides a nifty, Snap-previews style preview popup.
Clever Hippo offers RSS feeds for any search result, which when ordered by recency would theoretically let you keep tabs on your competitors in the app market. The site has standard search features, such as or, not, and wildcards. It also has a way to boost certain keywords in searches -- i.e., so you can search for "video library" and cause the site to put more emphasis on video than library.
31,000 apps is a lot to sort through -- Facebook alone has over 6,000. With OpenSocial and the coming release of the full iPhone platform, that web app and widget ecosphere is likely to grow larger. Clever Hippo is positioning itself in a clever position (forgive me) to provide search for the growing and increasingly important web app vertical.