There has always been the false assumption that Google is unassailable, a magic blackbox technology that can never be matched or trumped.
In reality, Eric Schmidt’s empire is just a very powerful global advertising and distribution company. Its search product, however, is wide open to attack from competitors with a better approach. Even very small, nimble competitors.
Google Search is a bit like a Greyhound bus. Sure, you use it to get to where you want to go, but if another line suddenly came along that was cleaner, faster and more comfortable – perhaps cheaper as well – there would be absolutely nothing to keep you loyal to Greyhound, right? A bus is a bus.
And yes, there have been some attempts at taking Google on. Blekko comes to mind.
The problem with Blekko though, to be blunt, is that it sucks. It will never gain market share in any meaningful way whatsoever. It has no confidence in its own authority as an engine, and so it relies on the dubious wisdom of ‘editors’ and transparency to the point of absurdity. Just another passing novelty.
A much bigger attempt, Bing, has been ‘successful’ in the sense that with extraordinary amounts of money and marketing muscle, Microsoft was able to more or less clone the Google Search experience.
Alcora9 is something we have been working on for more than a year. It launches January 1, 2012. A bit less than one year from today. A group of beta testers will be invited to the service in early July.
When you’re small, you can rethink everything. Nothing is taken for granted. Rules are broken and reworked.
We’re not aiming to outdo Google, in the same way that Facebook didn’t aim to outdo fax machines.
It’s simply a different experience, stemming from a profoundly different starting point.
I suspect Google will always remain the Internet’s most powerful ad agency – Alcora9 might even serve Google ads.
But will Google Search always be the dominant way most users seek out information? Time will tell.