Just days after Google launched its effort to replace wikipedia, a group of former Google engineers have launched an effort to replace Google! Anna Patterson, who worked at Google for two years, leads the team behind the new search engine Cuil, one that its creators claim is far more comprehensive in the web real estate it scans to find search results. (Google no longer goes public with how many pages its scans when searching the web.)
So how does Cuil hold up? Not so well, from our point of view; as of this blog post, the web site can't even load. Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan is only slightly impressed; after running nine quick search queries, he concluded, "I still didn't come away with a sense that Cuil has Google-beating relevancy." For one thing, Cuil is apparently just as vulnerable as Google to the George Bush "miserable failure" Googlebomb; Bush showed up as search result number two when he made the query. In addition, Cuil's search results didn't account for all the possible contexts for a search query; a search for "cars," for example, only brought up results for the extremely useful technology, not the overrated Pixar film. Finally, Cuil apparently only offered three results for the query "New York." Now, that's a problem.
Jacqui Cheng at Ars Technica gratefully notes that unlike Google, Cuil doesn't archive what you search for, offering the kind of privacy Google denies its users. Still, she concludes, Cuil is definitely in the beta stage, with a lot of bugs to work out. "Cuil has a ways to go in optimizing its search pattern analysis to figure out exactly what it is that users are looking for and how to present it, although some of these burps can undoubtedly be attributed to opening day troubles," she writes. "We still doubt that we'll be seeing the next 'Google Killer' anytime soon."
Motley Fool's Rick Munarriz focuses on Cuil's business plan, of course, and predicts that Cuil's best prospects will be to build enough users to get Microsoft to buy it and incorporate it into its schemes for world domination. "I happen to like Cuil's chances," he writes. "Its timing couldn't be better, at a time when Web users are gun-shy over how search engines are keeping and manipulating search history data. If Cuil becomes the new 'do no evil' player, it could be a feel-good winner."