Yearly Checkup: Cuil
It has been nearly one year since we reviewed Cuil, the brand new search engine which launched in July 2008 that was said to be able to take on Google. I think it’s quite clear based on the traffic statistics that Cuil is not so cuil (read cool) anymore. In fact, Cuil is so unpopular it’s been steadily losing traffic since it’s launch nearly one year ago (July 28th, 2008). According to Quantcast (these are rough estimates), it’s peak in traffic was 1.5 million unique visits back in July 2008 when it launched. It is currently around 40k unique visits per month (US) currently (and dropping).
That’s not good, not good at all. I’m not sure who is sticking around that site because honestly, it’s still not that good. Not to mention Cuil has more than Google to worry about now with Microsoft’s Bing making the a good impression amongst searchers. As of right now, I don’t think Cuil has a shot of survival (at least not much longer). It would need to do something completely revolutionary to redeem itself (sort of like what Microsoft did with Bing).
However, the chances of that happening I think are pretty slim due to the lack of success with Cuil. It may prove extremely difficult for Cuil to get anymore funding to make such drastic changes – especially with the current economy. The only reason Microsoft has been able to pull off Bing is because of their previous success and the fact they have a lot of cash at their disposal. I think the problem for Cuil was their problematic launch – I think it definitely killed them before they were able to take off.
There were a number of things Cuil could have done over this past year to make up for their rocky launch, but they didn’t. I’m not sure what Cuil was expecting to happen and if they thought traffic would magically appear out of thin air, but it definitely hasn’t. Part of the problem with Cuil currently is that it had a few decent features at launch that it never bothered to make note of or really bring people’s awareness toward. They didn’t advertise it enough. The average Internet user probably hasn’t heard of Cuil or even knows it exists. I mean, sure, they got a lot of press and publicity from their bold statements that they had a larger search index than Google but that all fell flat on its face when their servers became overloaded on launch day. And lastly, the much needed search improvements they made weren’t good enough because the search is still not as relevant as Google or Bing.
Essentially, everything that could have gone wrong for Cuil did. And now, they are stuck with two huge competitors (Google and Bing) rather than just one.
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