Search has been the sexy web app for years, with only social networking threatening its status as the cool king of web applications. And anyone gunning for Google seems to get a lot of attention. A husband and wife team of former Google employees launched a search engine called Cuil (pronounced “cool”) this week and the web was abuzz with the drama.
“Ex Googlers build Google killer” was the salacious angle behind the buzz, but when the search engine actually launched, the poor quality of its results and unreliability of the service generated a counter-buzz backlash. That Cuil representatives seemed snappy in response to the criticisms didn’t help and I’ll go ahead and predict that this search engine won’t go anywhere.
They differentiate themselves from the current search engines with a different user interface that is simply a lot less usable and while they claimed to have the largest index upon launch, they don’t and their relevance is behind all the major search engines (even Microsoft’s).
There is speculation that they launched this search engine in the hopes of being bought by a search engine like Microsoft, who has shown a willingness to spend big money this year (Yahoo takeover attempt, Powerset aquisition) to get search IP, market share, and talent.
That may be all that Cuil brings to the table. They went cheap on the backend and can’t realistically challenge for Google, Yahoo or even MSN scale. Their best hope is that Microsoft sees enough value in them to purchase them.