The following is a post from Brian Fitzgerald, the Director of Search Engine Optimization at TIG Global.
It feels like not a month goes by that I don’t read some article about a new product or company that is being touted as a “Google Killer.” Just last month it was an article from Adweek responding to a Forrester study, concluding that the pure search marketplace is still wide open for a contender to take on and bring down Google. While I strongly believe in competition and what it does for consumers, I find this idea of a “Google Killer” to be inaccurate and somewhat narrow-minded.
It was the same back in July of 2008 when Cuil (pronounced “cool”) was launched and referred to as a “Google Killer.” This rumor evolved mainly because the company was started by a few ex-Google employees, and because they had indexed 120 billion web pages; three times the size of Google’s at the time. It would have been a different story if the speculation around their ability to compete with Google was based on the fact that they had superior search results, more targeted advertising, or a better user experience, but that wasn’t the case. As a result, Cuil’s time in the news fizzled very quickly, which is why you’ve probably never heard of them.
Fast forward to today, and the chatter continues. The biggest reason that I believe this idea of a “Google Killer” is shortsighted is because of the unbelievable technical needs, investment, and equipment that would be necessary to compete on the level that Google does. It is estimated that Google processed 85 billion searches in 2008. How many servers and how much storage is needed to house billions of web pages and process billions of search queries? Well, Google is very secretive about their technology setup because they believe it gives them a competitive advantage, but we can safely say that hundreds of millions of dollars are invested in servers, storage, data centers and the resources to manage those data centers. Here is an aerial shot of one of the dozens of centers Google has around the world. So, how does a potential “Google Killer” scale quickly enough to have these technological resources to compete? I’m not sure that it is possible, but the opportunities are expanding for competition in a niche search environment, capitalizing on the areas that are still untapped or underdeveloped by Google.
Stay tuned for my next post, Niche Sites…Poised to Take on the Giant? I plan to discuss a few of these potential growth segments and up-and-coming companies to watch.
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