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Ex-Googlers Debut Cuil, An(other) Anti-Google

A mutiny of ex-Google employees, and one from IBM, launched Cuil ("cool"), a search engine whose name comes from the Gaelic word for "knowledge" and "hazel," reports the BBC. Founders include ex-Googlers Anna Patterson, Russell Power and Louis Monier; as well as Tom Patterson, who worked on search and storage technologies for IBM.

Cuil bears some similarities to its rival. The homepage is sparing (black to Google's cheerful white), the company name is quirky, and a link to the privacy policy is prominently displayed. (Google made a fuss about adding a privacy link to its own page earlier this month.)

Its pitch is also about the same Google's was when it first launched. The founders say Cuil indexes the web more comprehensively than anything that came before it. Indeed, on its first day live, the site alleges to have already indexed 121,617,892,992 webpages.

Other differences divide Cuil from its predecessors: it can purportedly understand the context of a page and the intentions behind search requests, a capability Google is working hard to refine. It retains no data on users (Google's database goes back 18 months). And search results are presented in columns, with image thumbnails bulwarking each link — a format modeled from online content and news sites.

Google was nonplussed by news of the contender. Without revealing its figures, the company said it indexes more pages than Cuil does. Analysts also err on the giant's side, hypothesizing that, like other new search engines, Cuil will eventually be eclipsed.

Human-powered search engine Mahalo and contextual search engine Powersetpurchased by Microsoft, another unsuccessful Google rival — recently vied for the search throne. None managed to seize significant market share from out of the monster's mouth.

Google's share of US searches approached 70 percent by June's end. It also bought Russian contextual ad firm ZAO Begun this month, bringing it closer to realizing the goal Cuil claims to have achieved: understanding content context and search intention.

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