Friday, May 24, 2024

"Bing outage shows just how little competition Google search really has" (but here are some contenders)

When DuckDuckGo was down our backups were Brave and Yandex. No problems.

From Ars Technica, May 24:

Opinion: Actively searching without Google or Bing is harder than it looks.

Bing, Microsoft's search engine platform, went down in the very early morning today. That meant that searches from Microsoft's Edge browsers that had yet to change their default providers didn't work. It also meant that services relying on Bing's search API—Microsoft's own Copilot, ChatGPT search, Yahoo, Ecosia, and DuckDuckGo—similarly failed.

Services were largely restored by the morning Eastern work hours, but the timing feels apt, concerning, or some combination of the two. Google, the consistently dominating search platform, just last week announced and debuted AI Overviews as a default addition to all searches. If you don't want an AI response but still want to use Google, you can hunt down the new "Web" option in a menu, or you can, per Ernie Smith, tack "&udm=14" onto your search or use Smith's own "Konami code" shortcut page.

If dismay about AI's hallucinations, power draw, or pizza recipes concern you—along with perhaps broader Google issues involving privacy, tracking, news, SEO, or monopoly power—most of your other major options were brought down by a single API outage this morning. Moving past that kind of single point of vulnerability will take some work, both by the industry and by you, the person wondering if there's a real alternative.

Upward of a billion dollars a year
The overwhelming majority of search tools offering an "alternative" to Google are using Google, Bing, or Yandex, the three major search engines that maintain massive global indexes. Yandex, being based in Russia, is a non-starter for many people around the world at the moment. Bing offers its services widely, most notably to DuckDuckGo, but its ad-based revenue model and privacy particulars have caused some friction there in the past. Before his company was able to block more of Microsoft's own tracking scripts, DuckDuckGo CEO and founder Gabriel Weinberg explained in a Reddit reply why firms like his weren't going the full DIY route:....