| Sunday May 29th 2016

Cuil market share drops to next to nothing

When Cuil launched just a couple of months back on the 28th July, it jumped right in there with the ridiculous claim that it was already the biggest search engine on the planet right from the get go. Cuil.com HomepageThis was, apparently, based upon some clever math which ended up with Cuil indexing some 120 billion web pages, or more than three times as many as anyone else. Even Google, which at around the same time stuck a tentative claim in for a trillion unique web pages identified during the automatic index creation process had to admit it only actually indexed a percentage of those in order to weed out the duplicates and dynamically generated content.

What Cuil did was mix claims of the biggest web index with claims of unique content-based relevance methods for the engine, and promised to go beyond link analysis and traffic ranking in order to provide quite simply ‘the ideal search engine.’

Sounds impressive, huh? And the fact that Cuil was the brainchild of former Google search index architect Anna Patterson and Stanford University search research pioneer Tom Costello could not hurt either. “By leveraging our expertise in search architecture and relevance methods, we’ve built a more efficient yet richer search engine from the ground up. The Internet has grown and we think it’s time search did too” Patterson exclaimed at the time.

Certainly that seemed to be the case at first, the publicity worked and the promise of a better-than-Google-search added up to a very quick carving out of a 0.26 percent share of the global search market. OK, so not something that would have Google executives quaking in their boots, nor shake the foundations of SEO the world over, but nonetheless impressive enough for a first 48 hours figure.

Yet Net Applications, the monitoring and measuring company which came up with those numbers has been keeping an eye on Cuil and now reports that things are not so hot, in fact they are positively icy cold. According to the latest figures for the end of August the Cuil market share has dropped to, well, just about nothing at all. Net Applications has the market share being a very meagre 0.01 percent. At least it is a very steady 0.01 percent though.

Why is this? Well I think I might know the answer: when compared to Google, Cuil search results are crap. A big steaming pile of crap in fact. I put it to a real world test after launch, going head to head against Google across a number of really very simple and very real world searches. The results were not just disappointing, they were devastating as far as Cuil was concerned. Other reviewers, bloggers, analysts and reporters were busy doing much the same and reaching much the same conclusions. That the technology behind Cuil might be impressive, the search index might be massive, the pedigree of the developers faultless, but the results were just not good enough. Certainly not good enough to switch from Google, not good enough to tarnish the Google brand one little bit in fact.

And those Net Applications market share numbers would seem to suggest that end users agree.

Not that everything is rosy for Google, because Net Applications has also announced a rather dramatic slide in popularity of the open source Google Chrome web browser. Chrome enjoyed a respectable one percent global market share within the first 48 hours, an unprecedented statistic. Now, though, it has slid down first to 0.85 percent last week and just 0.77 percent this. It seems like Chrome has been tarnished by one too many incidents involving security and stupid copyright grabs but above all else just does not deliver on the smaller, faster, safer promise. End users are, it seems, reverting back to Firefox and Internet Explorer, although Safari would appear to be doing best of all out of the Chrome migration.


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