Hand it to Cuil’s PR machine: The company did a great job getting the word out about the Internet’s latest would-be “Google Killer.” As the Huffington Post notes, Cuil dominated Google Trends’ listings of today’s searches.
And we wanted to like Cuil’s story: In recent weeks Google (GOOG) has been gunning for everyone from Wikipedia to Second Life. We liked the idea of a newer, hungrier search engine founded by ex-Google employees that would bring some competition back into a monopolizing search market.
If only Cuil’s product worked as well as it its marketing. So what’s un-cool about Cuil?
1. The service was down intermittently throughout its launch day
We heard the hype that Cuil indexed far more webpages than Google, but for lots of users their first impression of the new service was either this at cuil.com’s start page:
or this for search results:
2. Assuming Cuil worked at all, the search results were widely reported as inaccurate
What’s the first thing people check in a new, more-powerful Internet search? Their own name, of course. The SAI staff ran our own names through Cuil’s search. It hadn’t heard of some of us, while for others it returned our bylines next to pictures of… other people.
3. The name “Cuil”: We can’t pronounce it, we can’t spell it, and we don’t know how to use it in a sentence
Are we supposed to pronounce “Cuil” like “cool,” or the cutesey AOL-turned-MySpace-speak “kewl”? We’re already used to “googling it.” Are we supposed to “cuil it” instead? We’ve seen commenters already misspell Cuil in writing about it, a serious problem when trying to bring people to a site. Especially if you don’t own common misspellings of your own domain: As CrunchGear notes, culi.com leads to an Italian porn outfit.