The search engine market is dominated by Google – the fastest and most comprehensive search engine provider. Bing/Yahoo have been attempting to widen or at least keep their share in the market. Bing is working with the same mechanisms as Google, but does still not provide instant search. Yahoo uses now also Google-technology and has a business model similar to Bing and Google. Time and again there are several approaches to break into the dominance of Google, but most often this is doomed to failure because of the absence of a long lasting business model.
So what are the alternatives?
DuckDuckGo focuses on anonymous search. It uses, amongst others, Bing for search results. DuckDuckGo has introduced a number of modern, user friendly functions. It also shows advertisements only on users’ demand. Compared to Google it is missing instant search, the social media function and the transparency of the sequence logic. Its biggest shortcoming is however the fact that it lacks a convincing business model.
IxQuick/Startpage is using Google results and has a strong focus on anonymity as well, but it has neither auto-suggestion nor instant search. It has the same business model as Google, using large advertisements.
Qwant is an interesting and relatively new search engine with a variable display structure, though its display is a little confusing to users. It is missing social media functionality, instant search and a convincing business model. Revenues are solely generated through linked shopping pages. Nevertheless, Qwant was able to gain Axel Springer Ventures as an investor.
Blekko/Izik started with an excellent “bill of rights”, defining basic principles that focused on transparency and participation. But the actual implementation lacks consistency and a coherent business model. Ranking data is only displayed for paying clients and the editors are not getting real incentives. Its concept to assign keywords to websites using a “slashtag” mechanism is too complicated and not really convincing regarding the outcome.
Benefind and Ecosia have a nice charitable element to it, but use Bing/Yahoo results and lack additional convincing features.
Exalead Web Search is more of a showcase for the organisation, a provider for enterprise search software, than a real competitor as a search engine.
Yacy has excellent technology, an interesting decentralized concept and a loyal community, but is unlikely to attract mass usage since its software has to be installed on the local machine.
One of the first alternative search engines, MetaGer, has recently revamped its user interface and with that also got a modern search interface. It still allows to choose the search engines the user wants and therefore is interesting for special search topics. Also MetaGer has loyal users, but to attract more users the convincing argument is missing.
WolframAlpha is very useful for specialist scientific topics, but also not a real competitor for a general web search engine like Google.
With PLIDS for the first time a real alternative was created, focusing on the principles of transparency, participation and codetermination – in conjunction with a workable business model.