Inauspicious start for Cuil, yet another would-be-Google-killer: The search engine, whose selling point is that it crawls more of the Web than anyone else, launched overnight, but it’s been unable to stay up consistently. It’s been on and off throughout the morning, so don’t be shocked to see this message today:
What about when Cuil is up — does it do a better job at search than Google? Not based on our quick survey: Type in “Batman movie” and Google gives you news about the “Dark Knight”, followed by the official movie site, then two IMDB listing about the movie, then a YouTube clip, etc. Cuil’s first page of results doesn’t link directly to anything involving the Christian Bale/Heath Ledger flick. Our peers have given the site a spin and find similarily disappointing results.
Cuil is a few hours old, so we’ll assume that they’ll fix their downtime issue fairly quickly, and that its results will get better with some tweaking. The bigger issue is whether Cuil’s come-on — we’re bigger! — will be convincing. We don’t see it happening: Anyone remember the 1990s, when Barnes & Noble’s BN.com tried to catch up to Amazon by arguing that it offered more books? And the challenge for Cuil and the other would-be Google killers is even steeper, since they first have to offer a search engine that works as well as Google’s; so far they haven’t.
But they’re not going to stop trying: Even after dropping more than 30%, Google (GOOG) is trading at $492 this morning, giving the company a $154 billion market cap. The search market is just too big, and too lucrative, for the Cuils of the world to pack it in.