To call it "new" is actually a bit of a misnomer: it's been available on Blogger in Draft (akin to Gmail's Labs) for some time, but we polished it up a bit and let folks know about it this morning.
Louis Gray wrote up his reaction shortly after we published our post, concluding that Lijit should "look out!" I think Louis is as sharp as they come, but I'm not sure I agree. I've been fortunate to meet with the Lijit team on a number of occasions, and think that the opportunities they're addressing are a bit different than what we've done at Blogger with this launch. Indeed, in the comments on Louis's post, Micah Baldwin from Lijit does a good job pointing out that the custom search gadget and Lijit really aren't that competitive.
Where our custom search gadget enables visitors to find a specific piece of content from among the sites that the blogger has linked to, Lijit takes a somewhat more expansive view and uses search as a way to build a community around the blog in question. So there's search, but there's also stats, and there's an ad network built around the context Lijit has about how sites link to each other. It's that last piece - the network of associated sites - that I happen to know something about, as I helped build out a very similar idea at FeedBurner before we got acquired. I'm not just saying they're coincidentally similar - Lijit's networks were in many ways a continuation of what we started at FeedBurner. From the press release earlier this year about Lijit's networks:
Lijit Networks, Inc., a company that provides search-powered applications for individual online publishers and publisher networks, announced today the launch of Lijit Content Networks, which are sites built to support self-organized groups of bloggers that write about a common area of interest. Much the way FeedBurner, Inc.'s FeedBurner Networks once worked, Lijit's Content Networks aggregate their content via RSS feeds from many individual sites into a single website that captures the collective perspective of all sites in the network. [emphasis mine]So... is there some overlap? Sure. But while I think our gadget provides a cool way of applying several Google products to solve a complex problem (notably our AJAX APIs and our Custom Search Engine), Lijit is different. I don't think it's likely that users would use both on their blog at the same time, but I think that's because users of one are likely looking for something different than users of the other.