Is The Search War Over?

Why in God’s name would any sane entrepreneur spend their time, money and effort on building a new search engine? Look at Blekko, for example: a really spectacular engine with features I absolutely love, but which has less search market share than such search powerhouses as Dogpile, Lycos, and Excite.

Why the failure? To me, it’s simple: rule 1 of starting a business is find a pain point. Find some complaint about a service that lots of consumers have, and fix it. The problem with starting a search engine? What do people want out of search that Google doesn’t already provide?

Sure, people are concerned about Google’s privacy policies. Nobody likes thinking that they’re being watched, particularly on the scale that Google does. But the product is impeccable – you never hear anyone complain that Google just doesn’t search like a champ, or that they couldn’t find the result they wanted.

And therein lies the problem. The product is great. Other search engines can attack Google on their privacy policies, but they can’t offer a product that is superior in the eyes of the consumer. With Google holding as much as 84% of the search market, for a company like Blekko or Duck Duck Go to get market share, they’ll likely have to appeal to users who are already invested in their usage of Google.

So I ask again: why would anyone want to enter the search market? Lucrative as it is, unless someone is complaining that Google (or to a lesser degree Bing or Yahoo) is failing to find them search results, there’s nothing that an upstart engine can offer to really pull people to their product.