Even though it just launched yesterday, by now you’ve probably heard of CUIL: the new search engine developed by former Googlers claiming it’s the largest, most-efficient search engine on the Internet.
Results are grouped by content and instead of a single link and a snippet, longer text is offered, often along with images—a nice usability plus.
Unlike Google, CUIL doesn’t gather search history so it wins in the user privacy area, too.
CUIL’s founders helped build the search infrastructure used at Google, and have received press attention and $33 million in cold, hard cash.
For these reasons, all eyes were on CUIL yesterday and many people were asking, is CUIL a Google killer?
Not so fast.
CUIL has committed a cardinal sin of marketing.
To much fanfare, they’ve launched a flawed product and droves of people are trying it but are leaving disappointed—then telling others.
How flawed? Well, it’s flawed enough to be called the worst launch ever.
Don’t get me wrong—a product doesn’t have to be perfect. Sometimes the Patto Approach makes sense.
The thing is, Twitter works—at least most of the time. But it’s clear when it’s not working: Your tweets don’t load, or you see the Fail Whale.
With CUIL—at least now—it’s not so clear:
- Several searches yesterday returned “due to overwhelming interest, our Cuil servers are running a bit hot right now. The search engine is momentarily unavailable as we add more capacity.”
- In a CNN interview, a search for “George Washington” returned “no results.” I’ve had similar results.
- The photos associated with search results don’t always correlate with the article listed.
- Porn is slipping through with some image results. Yikes!
The fact is, searches return old, irrelevant pages regularly. Or pages that have no traffic. Or things you’ve never heard of. All instead of what you are really looking for.
Here are the results of a quick test of Cuil conducted by Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land yesterday. Let’s just say, “ouch.”
I don’t mean to bash CUIL—this is a marketing blog, after all.
But it’s been a long time since I’ve seen this much hype for a product that’s this flawed. A little more testing would have gone a long way.
The irony here is they could have positioned CUIL as a safer search because of their privacy advantage. Or as a more usable search. Even as a “search for the people” because it combines both. Users would have been more forgiving as they worked out the kinks.
Instead, all the pre-launch buzz focused on it being “better than Google” and whole host of other things.
So, what’s more important: Getting a product to market quickly, or getting it to market working well?
And do you think CUIL is the worst launch ever?
If so, why?
And if not, who?
Comment below to weigh in.