It isn’t easy to compete with Google. Many have tried and failed; but not because it is impossible to compete with the search engine giant but because competitors fail to realize the company’s weaknesses unlike Google, which recognized and capitalized other search engines’ weaknesses in 1997 and rose to the dominant position it holds today.
While it is incredibly difficult to compete with Google on the quality of search results there are other avenues that are much more vulnerable. For example, Google has always been and continues to be criticized for its privacy policies both in its mail offering as well as the data retention policies for its search engine. Furthermore, Google’s decision to cooperate with the Chinese government and filter search results also raises some concerns.
The latter of the two concerns is of course a more sensitive matter and one with less flexibility but we’re already seeing other search engines noticing Google’s privacy dilemma and are capitalizing on it. Ask.com announced just a few days back that not only was it instituting a new data retention policy where there would be no way to link searches to IP addresses (Google can and does link your searches to your IP for their own research) but that they would be launching a new product called “AskEraser” in the near future. Microsoft, too, of course jumped on the bandwagon and announced increase privacy options in their own search engine.
AskEraser, which allows you to completely wipe any hint of your search history from Ask.com addresses exactly those concerns that have worried privacy watchdogs and consumers’ rights groups about Google for years.
Anonymous user data can be very useful to enhance search products for all users, and we’re committed to being open and transparent about how such information is used. But we also understand that there are some who are interested in new tools that will help protect their privacy further, and we will give them that control on Ask.com.
The step by Ask.com and Microsoft just goes on to show that Google is not invincible. You just have to find the right avenue to exploit and you can cut yourself one more sliver of the pie.