In 1998, Alta Vista was the largest search engine according to CNN.
Today, Alta Vista is a mere ghost of its former self. Google is currently in
its prime and is by far the largest search engine in terms of usage. CNN
says that Google holds a full 62% of the U.S. search market, dominating the top
spot. A distant second place with 21% of the search market is Yahoo and
bringing up a very distant third place is Microsoft with 8.5% of the search
Google is dominant in search and online advertising right now, but it has
begun to lose some of its luster to early employees. Google has recently begun
key engineers and executives to other internet firms like Facebook.
CNN reports that Anna Patterson joined Google in 2004 when Google
purchased a search engine that she had built to upgrade its own technology.
Patterson has now left Google to start her own new search engine called Cuil--
pronounced like the word "cool." Cuil began
processing its first requests today.
Patterson says that the technology behind the scenes at Cuil is much more
efficient and comprehensive than the technology Google uses. Patterson says
that Cuil's web index has 120 billion web pages in its index. Patterson
believes that to be three times the size of Google's index according to CNN.
The exact number of pages in Google's index is unknown, last time Google
reported the size of its index it held 8.2 billion pages. That number was from
three years ago and a safe assumption would put the size of Google's index more
than that amount today. CNN reports that Google posted a blog Friday
saying it routinely scans 1 trillion web links. Not all of those links make the
cut and end up in Google search results though.
The Cuil search engine looks different visually and displays search results
differently than Google. The main search page is very clean and has nothing but
a search box and a number showing the amount of pages in its index along with
links to privacy and about pages.
The search results themselves are not provided in the familiar list of links
format seen on Google and other search engines. Cuil search results are
arranged in a column layout with more text and images attached to the returns.
Today, search results from Cuil provide many listings, but many of the
images attached to the search returns are nothing but the familiar
"X" placeholder when an image is missing. The other images attached
to search returns often have nothing to do with the text of the search results
or the search query originally entered.
Cuil is currently backed by $33 million in venture capital and its chances
of challenging Google are slim according to Allen Weiner, an analyst for
Gartner. Weiner told CNN, " Search has become as much about
branding as anything else. I doubt [Cuil] will be keeping anyone at Google
awake at night."