Search engines are the backbone of the Internet. Without them, we would struggle to find basically anything on the web. Search engines have quickly become mainstays in our daily online activities. But, with powerful search engines like Google and Yahoo! available freely, would you consider paying for a search engine? Sridhar Ramaswamy thinks you would, and he’s launching a service betting on it. Neeva is a premium search engine that promises privacy, no ads, and premium search features. The only catch is that it’ll cost you a few bucks a month.
How search engines make money
Before you decide whether or not you’re willing to pay for a search engine, you should understand how they typically make money. Big organizations like Google and Yahoo! collect personal data about your browsing habits: what search results you click on, and how long you browse before clicking on a search result. Not only does this allow them to provide more accurate, personalized search results, but it’s also how they make money. By leveraging this information, they help you by showing more relevant ads while serving advertisers with engaged audiences. If you’ve ever been considering buying something and then began seeing ads for it everywhere, your browsing information probably enabled that.
Search engines that don’t collect your information, such as DuckDuckGo, also rely on advertising to make money. However, these companies base their ads off of your current search, rather than your general search habits.
What is the price of privacy?
Neeva claims that they will protect your privacy and will delete your search history after 90 days.
Its goal is to provide the premium search experience of big name search engines like Yahoo! and Google, but with the privacy of smaller ones like DuckDuckGo. The question is, is this worth the cost? Ultimately, that depends on you.
If you value your privacy but also want the advanced features of popular search engines, Neeva may be a good option. With a starting cost of $10 a month, the service is affordable and comparable to many other subscription services. Plus, it plans on lowering the monthly fee as developers streamline the system. The benefit of a subscription service is that Neeva is accountable to its customers: you, instead of advertisers. Neeva won’t need to make concessions to advertisers or ask for donations. It is in its best interest to prioritize the needs of you, its customer.
What does it have to offer?
When paying for a service, it makes sense to expect the best from it. In Neeva’s case, this is especially true because its competitors are free. Ramaswamy says that rather than reinventing the wheel, Neeva will simply combine various features and services. This not only allows it to compete with larger search engines, but it significantly cuts down on development time. Plus, this is already a practice that other engines, like Yahoo!, have established. Ultimately, Neeva has an uphill battle, but it just might gain some support if it manages to carve out a niche for itself.
Is it trustworthy?
Projects like Neeva struggle against competitors primarily because they’re going up against massive companies with significant clout. After all, if it isn’t broken, why fix it? People have been using Google, Yahoo!, and Bing for years, and it can be hard to convince them to swap over. These are established companies with proven records. For a company that claims to support privacy, trustworthiness is key. Companies like Neeva must establish brand trust with their customers from their very first interaction. And because brand trust takes years to build, Neeva and companies like it certainly have their work cut out for them.
The bottom line
Ultimately, it’s a personal preference whether or not a privacy-focused search engine is worth a few dollars a month. There shouldn’t be a need to sacrifice privacy for premium features, so Neeva may be just what the internet needs.