Remember Cuil? A hugely funded Google killer which met a slow painful death. Well, cuil wasn’t the only startup in the search engine infrastructure space to have failed miserably. Many more have had the same fate and now we have a new kid on the block – Blekko which might as well fighting an already lost battle.
How Blekko works?
Blekko is designed to eliminate spam search results, allowing users to search just a subset of the web through its proprietary slashtag technology. Slashtags are a way that anyone can make a “vertical” search engine around any topic.
I will not go into the details on how Blekko works. You can check out the website yourself, since it is in open beta right now, or else check out one of these articles, which explain the service in greater detail. However, what I do is put forth my views on why I think Blekko will (also) fail.
Why Blekko has a Bleak Future?
1. Zero userbase – Unfortunately for all search based startups, they start from zero, while the biggies, specially Google & Bing are way too big in terms of acceptance and market domination. With such competition, a startup service is expected to have a better underlying technology right from the day one.
2. Nothing much wrong with Google – Having invested so much on the search infrastructure, there isn’t much wrong with the way Google search works. I guess, for the same reason, even Bing is finding it tough to make enough impact.
3. Tough on non-geeks – The whole concept of Slashtags is confusing for general users, who form the core of web search space. I actually asked few of my non-geeky friends to use Blekko for some time and saw that almost all of them were clueless about what they need to do with slashtags, let alone creating their own slashtags!
4. Onus on user edited search results – Blekko takes pride in its feature of user edited/curated search results. While this looks good for obvious reasons, it also hampers the performance of Blekko, specially now, when it has just started and hunting for users. Internet is vast and hoping for general users to work for them isn’t a smart idea at all.
5. Weak underlying search infrastructure – This is somewhat related to the first point I made above. This is 2010, where everything is instantized. Google bots index most of the web pages within seconds and Blekko struggles to index the latest pages of the 3 billion websites it tracks. We rarely come across a latest page when looking for some hot current news. Not at all a good thing for a service aiming to be a Google alternative.
I can go on with more and more
rants reasons, but these 5 should be good enough to make my views clear. I would be glad if Blekko proves me wrong. At least I will be happy that $24 million funding didn’t go down the drain.