There’s been lots of buzz today about Cuil.com, a new search engine that aspires to take on Google Inc.
This isn’t just any David and Goliath story, however — the Menlo Park, Calif., startup is led in part by three former Google employees who claim theirs is a richer, more efficient experience.
Cuil (pronounced “cool”) Inc. says it is “pioneering a new approach to search,” one that begins with indexing 120 billion Web pages — three times more than Mountain View, Calif.-based Google, according to Cuil (though Google still claims to have the most comprehensive index of any search engine). It entails a completely different method of organization, relying on an analysis of the Web site’s content to determine its relevance.
This is in contrast to Google’s method, which ranks results based on analyzing links and traffic to a given site (something Cuil’s Web site refers to as “superficial popularity metrics”).
There’s also a a considerable difference in the presentation of search results. Cuil’s answers show up in columns, as opposed to Google’s list, with thumbnail pictures beside the links. In addition, it provides users with separate tabs allowing them to narrow their search. For example, a search of “Jim Morrison” has tabs for “Jim Morrison poetry,” “Jim Morrison biography,” “Jim Morrison poster,” and more.
A separate box presents more search terms in related categories; a user who clicks on “The Doors songs” will see a link to a Cuil search for “Light My Fire,” for example. Cuil doesn’t let users search specifically for images or recent news like Google does.
As far as the quantity of results, Cuil returned fewer results than Google in three instances. The search for Jim Morrison returned 1,630,769 answers on Cuil and 5,590,000 on Google. Kittens yielded 22,759,864 on Cuil and 29,200,000 on Google. It was 1,216,646 and 9,990,000, respectively, for Dar es Salaam.
Cuil touts privacy as a differentiator. It doesn’t collect any personally identifiable information, such as name, IP address or cookie. That’s because, the company says, it analyzes Web content and not traffic history. Anna Patterson, the firm’s president and a co-founder, designed Google’s TeraGoogle index during three years at the company.
She leads the new company with her husband Tom Costello. Russell Power and Louis Monier round out the startup’s team of Google veterans. The word “cuil” is an Irish word meaning knowledge.
— Kara Rowland