After a lot of hype and venture capital, Blekko launched today. For those of you not familiar with Blekko, it’s a new search engine that like most of the search start-ups in recent years has been billed as a new threat to Google.
While I haven’t had much of a chance to put Blekko through its paces, here’s hoping it is able to survive its debut to live another day. In other words, it would be good to see Blekko be given the benefit of the doubt rather than be hit with the criticism that cut off search start-ups such as Cuil and Wolfram at the knees.
Even before Google emerged as the industry Goliath, search has been a competitive and nasty business. Pre-Google, being king of the search was a short-lived experience. One day, it was Lycos, the next day, it’s Excite.
And since Google, the biggest challenge facing search start-ups is that the acid-test has been benchmarking its performance against Google. Wolfram, for example, which set itself up as a research tool, was savaged by critics because it paled in comparison with Google.
Another problem has been many search start-ups have suffered from a bad case of hubris and over-hype. Cuil boasted about the billions of pageviews it had indexed, while Wolfram did little to dismiss the buzz it was the next Google. This is the kind of material that critics love to chew on because it provides a story with drama.
My first impressions of Blekko are that it provides good search results, although the real value of Blekko may be the ability to make vertical searches from an original search query. I haven’t had time to fully explore this feature but it appears to be a smart way to differentiate itself from Google.
I was also impressed by how Blekko quickly responded to a comment that I made on Twitter this morning after I read a New York Times story about its debut. If you are a new search engine looking to win over consumers and technology watchers, being engaged on Twitter is a very smart idea.
Like many people, I did a query for my name. At first, I was surprised to see I ranked second, while Google ranks me first. According to Blekko, Mark Evans Art is the king of “Mark Evans” because it was recently bought by Boing Boing, which is sending a lot of traffic it’s the way.