Will new search engine Cuil win against Google?

When we think of search on the internet, the one search engine that comes instantly to mind is Google. The search engine has maintained a clear lead over Yahoo and Microsoft, the number two and three players, respectively, A team of former Google engineers and others who worked at eBay, IBM and AltaVista have come up with an alternative search engine called Cuil (pronounced cool).

The main aim of Cuil.com is to break the monopoly of Google, but also change the surfing culture among users. Cuil is a start-up by husband-wife team Tom Costello (CEO of Cuil) and Anna Patterson, president, along with former colleagues Russell Power, vice-president of engineering, and Louis Monier, vice-president of products. Cuil has got venture funding of about $30 million from Tugboat Ventures, Greylock Partners and Madrone Capital Partners.

At Cuil, search index spans over 120 billion web pages, which is much larger than any existing search engine including Google (almost thrice its index span). The results are based on content and relevance. Popularity and audience traffic take a backseat. Though Cuil claims the largest web-page index, for most queries it displayed fewer total results than competitors. Google and Yahoo let the user page through all of the results while Cuil significantly limits what one can see, offering about 23 pages of results in total.

Another interesting aspect of Cuil is the safe search option which filters all possible ‘obscene’ results. Of course, the definition being relative. Also, there is no tab on user search pattern and history. Cuil does not fix spellings and provide results as you type the key words, unlike Google. So, chances are if one types ‘Now Delhi’ instead of ‘New Delhi’, Cuil will still get quite a few desired results without any spelling suggestions!

Indexing more pages, providing relevant results and slicker presentation are the features which Cuil is banking on to attract users. It remains to be seen whether it’s able to strike the right chord among users.

Despite early problems suffered by the newly-launched search engine Cuil last week, it has performed better than Google in a relevance test. The test by web monitoring firm NetApplications times how long a surfer spends on a website that it has been redirected to by a search engine. In the tests, people using Cuil spent 9.65 minutes on a site, whereas those using Google spent 9.37 minutes. Yahoo’s average was 8.57 minutes.

Google may be the de facto leader in search today, but will its lead last forever? With services like Mahalo and Cuil gaining attention and Microsoft willing to pour continued billions into its quest for online dominance, Google’s rivals are legion, and they’re hungry.