DeeCee - 5:57 am on Mar 25, 2012 (gmt 0)
I like Startpage/ixquick. The company, Surfboard Holdings, has a nice interface. It is my default
But as a meta-search engine (searcher in search results, basically it is a mere front-end or Proxy. Using the search APIs of the real search engines (the ones with the web-crawlers) to create information. Essentially Content scrapers that scrape from other content scrapers. :)
So, if they gain any high popularity, driving up their per day queries, how long do you think it will last before such as Google and Bing cut them away from feeding at the trough? Showing Google/Bing results, but with their Startpage/ixquick's own sponsored ads as their only business model.
They are essentially letting Google/Bing do the investments in infra-structure, crawling, and other, and presenting it to users with a "privacy front-end" that filters away the cookies and such.
I can imagine several things:
a) Google/Bing have let them suck on the straw so far as a nice "social experiment" for them. If a large portion of users flee to startpage/ixquick, that means the real engines need a similar service. (I also see in user-comments about them, that one factor in Europe is "At least they are not American". (Although they as a Dutch company was founded in New York, I think. :))
b) I can easily imagine that such as Google or Bing might just swoop in and buy out SurfBoard Holdings, which is still a private company just for the technology. Making Surfboard's filtering interface into their own "private search". A mere user-choice on the front-page of Google or Bing. Unless of course it is easier/cheaper to make their own interface, and just cut SurfBoard off from feeding.
c) I can VERY easily imagine that being bought out that way is EXACTLY what the ixquick owners are currently hoping and planning for. Because they surely cannot imaging that they can keep using the real SE's hard work and results without some serious coin in return. Knowing Google/Bing, we all know that this will not be a long-term viable business model. (Exception: see below.) The SEs are not charities. Allowing other companies to siphon users away from Google/Bing, while using Google/Bing's own data. :)
As long as they stay comparably tiny, Google/Bing tolerate them as an experiment. Something to monitor. After that? I certainly wouldn't.
To allow StartPage/ixQuick to live, they would have to pay more for the search results they take out, than Google/Bing themselves could make from the ads they present on their own search interfaces.
Maybe the thinking is that this revenue stream from Surfboard is from a set of users that would not otherwise use Google/Bing. So making some revenue of those users might be better than no revenue. :)