Meet Wowd, a peer-to-peer search engine that could challenge Google

The internet is littered with the carcasses of pretenders to Google's throne. From Powerset to Wolfram Alpha, the idea that a new form of search could outdo Google, the most important online innovation yet, has attracted some of the technology world's smartest players.

In that tradition, now comes a new entrant called Wowd, which could actually be the biggest threat so far. The name is a play is on the word "crowd" -- and it's not accidental. Wowd, which describes itself as "Skype for search," officially launched as a beta product open to the public at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco on Oct. 20.