Look, if a company sends out a press release at 1:22 AM EST Tuesday morning, is there any good reason to embargo it until 7 AM the same day? Answer: hell no. If Michael Arrington wants to gush about a startup, he'll gush when he damn well pleases. And if Valleywag wants to unfairly criticize that startup...well, here, about four hours early, is the press release for Sphere. Hope for its sake that it's actually useful. "Sphere is an unfortunate name," says a friend of Valleywag, "if your service is a load of balls."

Beginning below, ending after the jump.

New Blog Search Engine Sphere Launches [TechCrunch]
Sphere [Official site]

From: sphere.com beta signup [mailto:redacted] Sent: Tuesday, May 02, 2006 1:22 AM To: [redacted] Subject: sphere.com going live!

Hi - we want you to know that sphere is going live early tomorrow morning. Prior to doing so, we'd like to give you an early look at the product.

We've been able to integrate a lot of the great feedback we've received from a number of beta users. Thank you. As many of you know, we were hardware constrained during the beta and weren't able to give everyone access to the site - to those of you who didn't receive a password, thank you for your patience.

We'd appreciate you helping us get the word out if you like what we've built. Please feel free to blog about the site any time after 7:00 am Tuesday (May 2nd).

Here is the url: www.sphere.com. New in this V1.5 release:

* custom range histogram;
* sphere it bookmarklet that makes it easy to find blog posts that relate to what you're reading on the Web;
* top queries this hour/ this week;
* RSS for search results;
* community feedback buttons throughout the site;
* expanded related media verticals including podcasts (Yahoo! API), books (Amazon API), and photos (CNET Webshots API);
* expanded related news articles coverage (over 50 mainstream news sites such as CNN, NYT, ESPN, Fox, USA Today to name a few);
* expanded profiles;
* featured blogs for 12,000+ keyword search terms covering over 500 broad topics including baseball, anime, food, web 2.0, tech news, knitting, culture, etc.; and
* a brand new back end that scales.

The best two featues are the custom range feature (a search on 'mohammed cartoons' really illustrates its utility) and the sphere it bookmarklet (take a chance, download and it'll change your life). Also, check out the featured blogs for a number of topics like baseball, food, knitting, motherhood, web 2.0, google, etc - you'll find featured blogs for about 12,000 keyword search terms. And check out the related media for almost any search - you'll now find podcasts, books and photo's in addition to our news articles.

As always, we would appreciate your thoughts, and we hope you like it.

Sphere Founders