John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Totally UnCuil

If your mission is to beat Google in the search market, it’s probably wise to give your upstart search engine a name that people know how to pronounce. It’s also wise to make sure that the name appears in the first page of search results. Cuil, the upstart search engine that debuted today with aspirations of unseating Google, has apparently done neither.

Cuil, sophomorically pronounced “cool,” isn’t exactly the sort of name from which global brands are made (Google arguably wasn’t either but at least people knew how to pronounce it). And if its search engine boasts greater comprehension and relevance than Google’s (GOOG) as Cuil claims, why doesn’t it display the company itself in a search for “Cuil” instead of “Restaurants in Cuil Dabhcha,” “French Cuisine,” and “Lochaber”? (My first search for “cuil” returned nothing at all.) This, from a search outfit with a Web index three times the assumed size of Google’s and an executive team of Google veterans?

“You can’t be an alternative search engine and smaller,” said Anna Patterson, Cuil co-founder and president. “You have to be an alternative and bigger.”

And you have to be useful. Effective, too. Right now, Cuil seems to be lacking in both areas. “This is the most promising thing I’ve seen in a while,” said Search Engine Land editor Danny Sullivan. “Whether they are going to threaten Microsoft (MSFT), much less Google, that’s another story.”

To be fair, Cuil does have one thing going for it: a privacy policy that seems to be quite a bit more favorable to users than Google’s.

Privacy is a hot topic these days, and we want you to feel totally comfortable using our service, so our privacy policy is very simple: When you search with Cuil, we do not collect any personally identifiable information, period. We have no idea who sends queries: not by name, not by IP address, and not by cookies (more on this later). Your search history is your business, not ours.”


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