Cuil vs. Google: Can David Beat Goliath?

Marred by problems on launch day, analysts question whether Cuil can compete.

ByABC News
July 28, 2008, 6:19 PM

July 29, 2008 — -- Marred by page errors and intermittant outages when it launched on Monday, a new search engine billing itself as a wider-reaching, more intuitive Google may have trouble competing with established Silicon Valley search goliaths, analysts said.

Co-founded by Anna Patterson, an engineer who architected the latest version of Google's search engine in 2006, (cuil is pronounced "cool") claims it is superior in several ways.

First and foremost, the site claims to search nearly three times more Web pages -- about 121 billion, according to the site -- than Google. Google spokeswoman Katie Watson told the Associated Press that Google still believes its index is the largest.

Funded by $30 million from investors, the site also boasts a more "magazine-style" index -- instead of one-line listings, there are descriptive chunks of text with photos with options to explore by categories automatically generated based on the search data, as well as tabs that "guess" more specifics about the user's search.

Notably -- and on the heels of complaints about most search engines' practice of saving search history -- Cuil promises total search privacy; no saved history -- no big brother (or big advertising agency) watching.

But, despite the fact that the Cuil staff, many of whom are former Google employees, have openly thrown down the gauntlet to the search engine giant, analysts call the comparison to Google not only unwarranted, but maybe even unfair.

"Obviously, there's a lot of interest in any stealth startup that's going to be a search engine. ... Everyone wants to know, 'Who's the next Google?'" said Erick Schonfeld, co-editor of Silicon Valley tech blog TechCrunch. "There's no way any startup in the world can outperform Google. The question really is whether or not Cuil can produce better results than Google can."

After a day of searching on Cuil and comparing those results to Google, Google wins out every time, returning more results and more relevant results.