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Cuil stumbles out of the gate

Juan Carlos Perez | July 28, 2008
The latest search engine startup to come out is taking a beating that could do it long-term damage.

According to a recent IDC survey, three-quarters of U.S. online consumers know Google as an Internet brand and the majority like Google and believe it offers quality services, she said.

"Furthermore, Google also already has an established business model based on search advertising in which it excels. Even if Cuil offers better search results, the company is not monetising its service with advertising at this point and will not be able to compete with Google in terms of revenue," she said.

Of course, on Monday, Cuil's problems were much more serious than offering better results, considering how shaky its performance has been. At close to 5 p.m. US Eastern Time the site was still returning error results, saying it couldn't process queries because its servers were overloaded.

"From the perspective of Web search technology, Cuil has a number of hurdles to overcome, as its failure to survive a day in the sun today proves," said IDC analyst Susan Feldman.

The performance problems at Cuil are not likely due to a lack of technical expertise, but most probably an issue of limited infrastructure resources, Feldman said in an e-mail interview.

"Scaling up to billions of queries and documents is a problem in and of itself. That is probably the main hurdle that most startups have to jump. Doing this day and night, and keeping the index current while providing sub-second responses takes a toll on the performance of any system," she said. "The problem is that this requires server farms that are usually outside the scope of a start up, and therefore has constituted a barrier to entry."


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