Monday, July 28, 2008

Cuil - the next best thing in search engine technology?

Cuil, a company floated by former Google search executives and financed by the venerable venture firm Greylock Ventures, promises a lot. But will it catch on? The search engine is capable of searching triple the number of web pages than Google can, according to its founders. Cuil, an old Irish word for knowledge, seems like a formidable competitor. But will it be, really? The way we assess a search engine's functionality is based on areas such as:

1: reasonable aggregation/presentation of information
2: presentation of relevant and updated information
3: employ a targeted advertising model for revenue generation
4: ability to link to specific information within web pages and buried documents

How many of us ever cross page #2 of Google, MSN or Yahoo! search results? Do we really need so many result pages?

So when Cuil claims that it can search more using less hardware, we are not sure how the results will be more relevant or how a very relevant result missed out by Google may magically show up in Cuil's search engine. Or for that matter, we are not clear how Cuil will go one up against Google in all 4 of the parameters presented above. It appears to us that the goal of maximizing advertising revenues may conflict with the goal of serving up pertinent results. For the goal of pertinent results, the effective use of resources would be to screen all irrelevant pages and present only pages that are most relevant. But this would mean that advertising real estate on several million pages would be rendered valueless. Our question to Cuil is: is anybody of relevance complaining today that they dont appear in search results?

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