Google has been the undisputed king of search for decades, with the meager attempts of Microsoft and the upstart, privacy-focused DuckDuckGo failing to coax many users away.
Estimates of Google’s global search market dominance range from between 70% to 90%, though Microsoft’s Bing appears to have gained some small ground over the last couple of years.
Now, as both users and regulators are increasingly demanding greater security and better privacy, the company behind the cryptocurrency-powered Brave browser has launched a new search engine—promising to be a private and transparent alternative to Google’s ad-based surveillance tech.
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Brave Search—launched in beta this week—tries to use its own independent index of the web to function without relying on other indexes, claiming it “doesn’t track users, their searches, or their clicks.”
“Unlike older search engines that track and profile users, and newer search engines that are mostly a skin on older engines and don’t have their own indexes, Brave Search offers a new way to get relevant results with a community-powered index, while guaranteeing privacy,” Brendan Eich, Brave’s chief executive who’s the former head of Firefox creator Mozilla, said in a statement announcing the launch of Brave Search.
However, if Brave is unable to produce results with enough relevancy, it will pull answers from other providers. Results will feature a “search independence metric” that will display the ratio of results coming exclusively from Brave’s index.
Brave Search will become the default search in the Brave browser later this year but it can be reached via search.brave.com, meaning users don’t need to switch to Brave’s browser to use it.
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While Brave’s browser still has a negligible market share of the global browser business, it has been growing at a steady clip—now boasting 32 million monthly active users, up from 25 million in March 2020.
“Brave Search is the industry’s most private search engine, as well as the only independent search engine, giving users the control and confidence they seek in alternatives to big tech,” added Eich. “Brave Search fills a clear void in the market today as millions of people have lost trust in the surveillance economy and actively seek solutions to be in control of their data.”
Brave said it won’t be displaying ads during “this early part” of Brave Search’s beta but said it plans to offer both ad-free paid search and ad-supported free search later. It then plans to include cryptocurrency support.
“When we are ready, we will explore bringing private ads with [the cryptocurrency] BAT revenue share to search, as we’ve done for Brave user ads,” the company said in its launch press release.