Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Yet Another Search Engine Tries to Unseat Google

There's a new search engine in town. Yes, its yet another search engine who is going to try its luck and wrest the search crown from Google which continues to lord the industry at more than 70% market share from the last stats I've seen.

The new search engine is called Cuil (pronounced "cool"), from an old Irish word meaning "knowledge". While many brave souls have tried to unseat Google and all have miserably failed, what makes these guys think they are THE ONE? For one, the team behind the project has some serious credentials backing them up:

  • Anna Patterson: worked on Google's search index
  • Russell Power: worked on Google's search index
  • Louis Monier: founder of the AltaVista search engine (ahhh.. the former search king who turned down the opportunity of owning the Google engine when it was offered to them by Page and Brin when they were still nobodies)
  • Tom Costello: worked on IBM's WebFountain project
Cuil claims to have the biggest index (bigger than Google). Somehow, I doubt this claim. They certainly don't have the number of computers Google has, nor the financial resources to put up such a large network (being a startup). For the heck of it, I tried searching for "full-spread photo books". It returned a page with only 2 entries -- happily, one of them is for ThePictureShop. Doing the same search with Google returns lots of entries. Strangely also, the result page says it found "3 results", but it only shows 2. I don't know why.

I don't know if Cuil also puts weight on the geoip of the user. When I searched for "Online Payment System", it returned PayEasy at the first page list along with big boys -- the likes of PayPal, Surely, we haven't reached that stature, but I just wonder if it gave more weight to Philippine-based sites since it detected my geoip is Philippines.

Cuil also uses a new report format. Unlike the traditional list that goes top-down, Cuil returns in results in 3 columns. Its easier to read, I think. It also shows an image on the side. I have no idea where that image came from. In my search for "full spread photo books" where appeared, the image beside it is that of a photo book, but it did not come from my site. No idea where that came from.

Perhaps most significantly, Cuil claims they are using a different way for determining relevance of a page. They departed from the PageRank algorithm that is used by Google. Only time will tell, I guess, if their algorithm proves it is that much better. For now, even Google seem to have noticed them, but people are also questioning the claim of them having a bigger index.

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