Cuil.com (pronounced Cool), the new search engine developed by ex-Googlers, came out of stealth mode over the weekend to much fanfare. The news hook, of course, is the angle of ex-Googlers taking on Google.
They should’ve stayed in stealth mode until they had it figured out because they ain’t a challenge to Google (or Yahoo, Live.com and Ask.com, for that matter) any time soon. They would’ve been better off because ordinary consumers may just try it out and then abandon it, people like me who are in the search engine business in one capacity or another are going to try it out and then tell everyone why it’s so bad.
I took Cuil out for a spin yesterday and was underwhelmed, to say the least. My first search was for "minnesota twins" and, as you’ll see from the following screenshot (click on them for the large versions), while the search results include links to the official team web site and two popular Twins blogs, they also include links to sites that sell tickets and one link to a site about NBA basketball.
Google knows that a search for "minnesota twins" is an information search and thus I get results that are informational: The team web site, the Twins section of sports news sites, reference sites. Cuil, apparently, hasn’t figured this out.
A search for information on the two major party candidates for US Senate in Minnesota was a bit more successful. A search for "Al Franken", the Democratic candidate, yielded plenty of relevant links but not one of them was to the candidate’s official web site.
A search for Norm Coleman, the Republican candidate, fared better with lots of relevant links but the link to his official site was buried beneath the scroll at the bottom right hand corner of the screen. For people searching just for the candidate’s name, the official campaign web site is likely pretty high on the list of things that searcher is looking for.
A search for Cuil itself yields a lot of irrelevant links that are mostly search spam but absolutely nothing about themselves.
Cuil calls itself the "word’s biggest search engine." That’s all fine and well but if you’re not giving me what I’m looking for, I could care less, certainly not enough to switch from Google.