The latest entrant in the search engine battles is Cuil, pronounced "cool," which hopes to be the company to break the strangelhold Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has had in the search market.
What may make this a particulary interesting company is its original team, which has a strong background in search success, and which Google bought its technology from in 2004 for the purpose of upgrading its own search system.
So Anna Patterson, husband Tom Costello and former Google engineers - Louis Monier and Russell Power hope their latest creation will do what no one else has been able to: challenge Google in its core business.
Here's some of the points the company is trying to differentiate in:
A search index the company asserts is three times as big as Google's. Cuil says it indexes 120 billion Web pages.
Goes deeper into the content of the page, rather than rely on quantity or quality of links.
Search results look more like magazine than vertical Web links.
Results are displayed with photos.
Sidebar with additional information about original search topic.
Won't keep searcher information, making it more ideal for those concerned about privacy.
Even if this is a better search engine than Google, it wouldn't be the first time many people thought so, as quite a few thought ask.com was superior at one time also. The issue at hand is the Google brand, which is so seared in the consciousness of people, that it makes it extremely difficult to break through.
Gartner Inc. analyst Allen Weiner said, "Search has become as much about branding as anything else. I doubt [Cuil] will be keeping anyone at Google awake at night."
The other problem for Cuil is the ordinary content searcher just wants to find some quick information on a topic, they don't care about the depth of the pages indexed. What do they care if a search company has 8 billion or 30 billion pages indexed? They just want to find a few things, and Google, along with their other two major competitors, offer more than enough.
Another potential problem I see is the search result page. While initially I liked it when I saw it, it does take longer to quickly glance at the results, which may turn off a number of searchers. I found myself struggling some after I've been used to looking at the vertical results offered by other search engines.
This type of search looks like it may appeal to more of the deeper researcher types, who want to dig deep into subject matter, and may be attracted to a larger index base. Some very concerned about privacy may also gravitate to the site.
No matter how good this may look, I would be really surprised if Cuil makes any significant inroads into the search market.
They do have $33 million in investment capital to play with, but money hasn't helped others who've thrown millions at search to grab a bigger piece of the search pie. I just don't see Cuil at this time offering up anything significant that will change anything.