Google’s grip on the web has never been stronger. Its Chrome web browser has almost 70 per cent of the market and its search engine a whopping 92 per cent share. That’s a lot of data and advertising revenue for one of the world’s most powerful companies.Google’s dominance is being challenged. Regulators are questioning its monopoly position and claim the company has used anticompetitive tactics to strengthen its dominance.
Brave, founded by former Mozilla executive Brendan Eich, is taking on Google’s search business too with privacy focused. The announcement of Brave Search puts the upstart in the rare position of taking on both Google’s browser and search dominance. No IP addresses will be collected and the company is exploring how it can create both a paid, ad-free search engine and one that comes with ads.
But building a search engine isn’t straightforward. It takes a lot of time and, more importantly, money. Google’s search algorithms have spent decades crawling the web, building up anindex of hundreds of billions of sites and ranking them in search results.
The depth of Google’s indexing has helped secure its market-leading position. Globally its nearest rival is Microsoft’s Bing, which has just 2.7 per cent of the market. Bing’s own index of the web also helps to provide results in other Google rivals, such as DuckDuckGo which uses it as one of 400 sources that feed into search results.
Brave isn’t starting its search engine or index from scratch and won’t be using indexes from Bing or other tech firms. Instead Brave has purchased Tailcat, an offshoot of German search engine Cliqz, which was owned by Hubert Burda Media and closed down last year. The purchase includes an index of the web that’s been created by Tailcat and the technology that powers it. Eich says that some users will be given the ability to opt-in to anonymous data collection to help fine-tune search results.
The Brave Search team are also working on filters, called Goggles, that will allow people to create a series of sources where search results are pulled from. People could, for example, use filters to only show product reviews that don’t contain affiliate links. A filter could also be set to only display results from independent media outlets.
Brave has one advantage when it comes to people who might use Brave Search: its web browser. The company says the browser, which launched in 2019, already has 25 million monthly active users – in the future they may all be potential search users too. However, Eich says Brave Search won’t be forced upon people as a default to begin with.“We will have it as an alternative not as a default because we’ll still feel like there’s more work to do,” he says. “As it gets good enough, I think we will try to make it the default engine in Brave.”