Cuil has gotten everyone excited – but why ?

Cuil, a new search engine built by a team of ex-Google employees, launched earlier yesterday. Ever since,  I’ve been hammered by the news of the launch everywhere – RSS Feeds, New York times, Techmeme. Even before I got a chance to try it out, folks were already talking about its 120 billion index of web pages and how Cuil could be a major threat to Google.

As the day passed, folks got sufficient time to try out the search engine and the reviews have been mixed. I tried out the service myself and couldnt agree more. While Cuil does offer some neat features, its nowhere near to usurping Google’s reign anytime soon. The search results seemed mediocre at best.

So, why and how exactly did Cuil end up getting so much hype in spite of having such an okay product ?

I attribute it to three reasons:

1) The core team behind Cuil are ex-Google employees and well respected search experts. That gives them tremendous credibility right from the get go. Building infrastructure and the ability to index 120 billion pages in such a short time is no mean feat by any regards

2) Great stealth and PR tactics by Cuil and the gullibility of the A-list bloggers who took the bait

3) The third and the single biggest reason is that people seriously want to see a potent Google competitor. Part of the gullibility I mention above might arise from the fact that people feel threatened by Google’s dominance over the search market. Even the faintest flicker of hope for a credible Google competitor sounds really exciting. Google has become too big and dominant in today’s market. No longer is it the underdog.  That explains why news about Cuil (for that matter Powerset too) got folks really excited and hopeful.

Its still too early to pass any extended judgement on Cuil yet. Its just a day old and Google has had about 10 years of headstart. I’m pretty sure the folks behind Cuil will be able to build up on all this hype, tweak and improve their product and hopefully give us a kick ass Google competitor — at least I hope they will.

What’s your take ?

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8 comments

  1. Spend the day at Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay and enjoy some good times with the family. Web Service

  2. Cross comment, but I’ve to new layout is very fresh and cool
    Cuil is not that bad wokay

  3. Wht I likd about Cuil is the experience they provide rather than a plane search. The chances here are more that u’ll stick to there website because of some useful features like”Browse by categry”, “Suggestions” based on keywords etc….
    Search is more enjoyable hr, but still every1 knows why google is at the top (KISS!)….moreover if they claim they dont track our private data, hw can they manage to earn money???

  4. Hi, I find your third argument the most powerful. I think more than gullibility, it’s hoping that something will come up and show Google a thing or two. The Internet community has had enough of Google’s ‘We’re the Masters’, and ‘We don’t answer to none’ attitude.

    I don’t know about Cuil, but I think this is the beginning of the end for Google if it doesn’t become more responsible.

    If it won’t be Cuil, it would be someone else. If not now then not very long way off.

    Maintaining the top position on the net is harder than getting to the top, because people are always looking for the next big thing.

    Cheers!
    Cyril

  5. An amazing search engine. Good that Google’s dominance is eing challenged with a simple interface but strong platform.

    Cheers!

  6. @rabi

    I agree – I like the very same features that you point out.. found them pretty likeable

    @cyril
    couldnt agree with you more..

  7. I think Google has become a ‘necessary evil’ in people’s mind. Everyone needs it, but they are afraid of its growth. People are afraid of Google accumulating power as the time passes by and then turn evil (like it happens in the movies).

    Cuil, ain’t cool.

    1) Users are used to the look at SERPs top to bottom and not left to right. Cuil is trying to make user learn the way they thing it should be. It does not work this way, unless you have a really compelling product.

    2) Categories – Look ok, but their navigation is an hindrance. Don’t expect me to mouse-over each of the category to see the hidden results (see http://www.cuil.com/search?q=bollywood ). If you are confident about them, bring ‘em out. On this specific query, it seems like they have old data. Been ages ‘Jhoom Barabar Jhoom’ was _famous_

    3) Better Results. At this time, ‘china Olympics’ seems to be showing documents based on just the keyword density. I think more than 2 term searches will mostly yield crappy results.

    PS – Like the new theme!

  8. You often hear the phrase, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity”. In Cuil’s case, I’m not so sure. While they did a great job of building up hype (“The Google killer has arrived!”), they fell short of delivery. And the startup community – especially bloggers have slammed them for this – pretty mercilessly.

    After searching for 3-4 terms as a test, I could immediately see the difference. When I keyed in the term ‘Content Sutra’ a few hits on contentsutramixer.eventbrite.com showed up, but no contentsutra.com. I tried again, this time searching for contentsutra.com – but didn’t get much better results. This is fairly surprising given that CS is probably one of the most popular startup blogs in for the Indian Startup scene.

    I guess this is a good lesson on how ‘too much PR’ can be bad for you. That said, Compete.com shows that had 2mn unique monthly visitors in July. I wonder if that will be sustained, or indeed grow, once people have checked it out and been disappointed.

    I’m still hopeful however. I think Google’s dominance needs to be challenged and I wish Cuil all the best. I am certainly going to check in on them now and then to see whether their results have improved.

    Gautam Kshatriya
    gautam.kshatriya@moneyvidya.com
    http://www.moneyvidya.com/blog