There is a whole raft of new search engine startups plus many established players that all share one thing: their primary search source is Bing. Which leads me to the question of: how many Bing powered search engines can the market absorb?
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing search engine projects for using Bing nor am I criticizing Bing for selling access to it’s search feed. Many of these search engines have been able to differentiate themselves from the others and from Bing in innovative ways and what appeals to one person might repel another so having a large choice of Bing powered engines is not bad. But in the end they are all retreads of Bing all dressed in different clothes.
Bing Powered Search Engines
- DuckDuckGo (despite the many sources DDG uses, the organic search results you see are from Bing.)
- Ecosia (charity supporting)
- Givero (charity supporting)
- Info.com (from Infospace.com)
- OneSearch (new from Verizon)
- SwissCows (uses Bing only in English, has it’s own crawler/index for German.)
- Qwant (uses Bing only in English, has it’s own crawler/index for French, German, Italian.)
MetaSearch Engines that Use Bing
- MetaGer (gets results from both Bing and it’s own index in English)
The above lists are partially sourced from: https://www.searchenginemap.com/ along with other sources.
So What Does this Mean?
The good thing, is that all of the Bing powered search engines together, help to erode Google’s near monopoly of search. I like to think of it as Bing’s, guerrilla war on Google, fought with surrogates. “Death by a thousand cuts.” And, all these Bing powered engines provide users with a variety of UI’s and features that they may prefer over just being stuck using Bing itself. Good so far as it goes.
The bad thing is, we the users, are still stuck with a duopoly. At the end of the day the entire global English language searchverse is still stuck with only two major search engines: Google and Bing. That’s it, you only get two opinions for finding things on the web – no third, forth or fifth opinions. No matter how you dress it up it’s still a duoculture. There is nobody else to turn to.
The second list of meta-search engines are stuck in the same boat, they are stuck in the duopoly too, being forced to rely on Google and Bing (plus Bing powered engines.) Some are able to bring in smaller, independent engines that have their own crawler and indexes like Mojeek, and Yandex but those are not deep enough.
Do They Realize It’s Bing?
Based on the comments I read across the web and on social networks, I’m pretty sure the average Joe or Jane user is unaware that the search results on their alternative search engine of choice are derived from Bing. In fact, I’ve seen many users swear that, say DuckDuckGo results are so much better, deeper more relevant than Bing. The problem is, that sooner or later the public is going to catch on. And we can’t just keep adding more Bing retreads to the mix.
The DuckDuckGo Question
Nobody has woven together a variety of different search sources around Bing with more skill than DuckDuckGo. Yet the backbone of DDG’s results remains Bing, to the extent that they are totally dependent on Bing to function as a search engine. As more Bing clones launch their task of making themselves different becomes harder. Yet, I do not see any evidence of DDG trying to crawl and create their own index. To me, that would be a long term strategy. DDG has a crawler but they seem to use it for their Answers feature. Other search engines like SwissCows and Qwant are building their own indexes in other languages so we know it can be done. But only Mojeek seems to be trying in English. Again we are up against the barrier of the duopoly which suppresses all other attempts at competition.
How long can we keep cloning Bing for variety in search? Ultimately the market, and regulation from the EU and/or US will decide. What the Bing clones do show is that demand is out there for something different – something not Google. But how long will we be happy with just cloning Bing?
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