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Can This New Search Engine Break Google’s Monopoly?

You.com aims to take over Google with a more privacy focused approach

It is common knowledge that Google completely dominates the search engine market. As per Statcounter, Google captured 91.66% of the search engine market share in October 2021 with others like Bing (2.74%), Baidu ( 1.91%), Yahoo (1.5 per cent), Yandex (0.96%), DuckDuckGo (0.6%) taking crumbles of the pie. But a new kid is on the block and claims that it can break this monopoly of Google.

AI-driven open-source search engine You.com has announced its public beta launch. It has also received funding of $20 million led by tech leader and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff (its founders Richard Socher and Bryan McCann were scientists at Salesforce) with participation from Breyer Capital, Sound Ventures, Day One Ventures, and others.

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What’s so special 

Claiming to “bring more trust, kindness and facts to the internet, You.com says that the search engine comes with the following advantages

  • Unique and easy to use interface–the answers to a search query come in a grid-like structure organized by source

Image: You.com 

  • Summarizes the web for the user, without ads and with focus on privacy. 
  • Its AI will help the user to find the most relevant apps (it has over 100 search apps), but the user is in control and can customize these apps and sources. 
  • Allows the user to define their preferred sources and show you results from the sources you prefer first whenever possible.
  • Usually, sources like Reddit, Quora or Medium need their own search query, but at You.com, it allows the user to search them all in one place. This gives the opportunity to look at a topic from different viewpoints easily.

Google’s Privacy Issues

With data breaches and personal information leaks becoming more and more common as technology is progressing, much concern has been raised about how safe Google is to use and what kind of information Google keeps with itself about us. Last year, Google faced a $5 million lawsuit in the US, accusing it of illegally invading the privacy of users by tracking their internet use through browsers set in “private” mode. This complaint said that Google collects data through Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager and other applications and website plug-ins. There have been several other concerns raised in different countries, raising questions about how secure Google search is and how much sensitive information Google collects from us.

How does You.com tackle privacy issues?

Though privacy is of fundamental importance to any human being, given the digital world we live in, a huge part of the customer experience is based on understanding our choices and preference to give better search results. This search engine understands that very well. The company says that on one side, ad-based platforms use trackers to follow the user across different sites and present the user with targeted ads based on their past choices and selections. On the other extreme, there are tools in the market to protect one’s anonymity like ad blockers, VPNs, etc.

Private and Personalized Mode

You.com wants to provide a balance of both. It comes with two complementary modes of operation- private mode and personalized mode. The user can easily switch between the two modes whenever they want to. As per the company, in the private mode, the queries will not be stored in the servers, and clicks will not be recorded. It will share a query with a search partner only to get you the results in that app. They will not know where or from whom the query is coming. Apps that need IP or location will be disabled. 

In the personalized mode, the user can search even without creating a profile and can select the preferred sources and modify the order in which apps appear in response to a query. This takes away power from SEO executives and advertisers. The site will only collect data on user interactions with the site, and use it to improve our product. 

Image: You.com

Other alternatives to Google already exist

Obviously, this is not the first time someone has tried to break Google’s monopoly. 

  • DuckDuckGo– One of the most well-known alternatives popular for not collecting user data.
  • Ecosia– Focused on privacy and helps in environmental protection. It says it donates a big chunk of its profits on reforestation efforts. 
  • Brave– Free and open source browser. It gives users the choice to turn on optional ads.
  • Yandex, Bing, OneSearch
  • Swisscows– Does not track your data, filter results or show behavioural ads.

Though the alternatives have been in the market for long, Google has continued to dominate. Only time will tell if You.com’s private-focused approach will be able to break this power that Google holds.

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Sreejani Bhattacharyya
I am a technology journalist at AIM. What gets me excited is deep-diving into new-age technologies and analysing how they impact us for the greater good. Reach me at sreejani.bhattacharyya@analyticsindiamag.com

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