A year of Google killers, Androids and Tweets

There was a buzz of excitement in early 2008 when a group of ex-Google developers decided to go their own way and setup Cuil

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By  Gareth Van Zyl Published  December 29, 2008

There was a buzz of excitement in tech circles in early 2008 when a group of ex-Google developers decided to go their own way and setup Cuil (pronounced ‘cool’), a search engine aimed to rival the likes of Google and Yahoo! Unfortunately, Cuil ended 2008 as being ‘totally un-cool’.

Just before Cuil was launched, people were calling it a “Google Killer”. The Cuil developers themselves claim on the Cuil website that Cuil is “the world’s biggest search engine” and that Cuil searches three times as many pages as Google. Cuil, however, failed dismally to live up to its hype.

Upon Cuil’s launch in July 2008, many users complained that Cuil displayed irrelevant search results, users complained that Cuil was too slow and users even observed that unrelated images were displayed alongside search results. The search engine also couldn’t handle all the site traffic it was generating on its first day, and Cuil briefly crashed.

Today, very few people visit Cuil at all. On web-site traffic tracking services such as Google Trends and Alexa; graphs clearly indicate that apart from an initial spike in traffic just after the release of Cuil, the Cuil search engine can now be regarded as dead and buried in terms of visitor statistics.

Another development that had been hyped up in 2008 (but which had some disappointed) was the release of the T-Mobile G1 Android smart phone in the US. The media hype focused on how the G1 could be a competitor to Apple’s iPhone. The T-Mobile G1 has great features. It has GPS, WiFi, a touch screen, QWERTY keyboard, camera, Gmail, Google Maps, a Webkit-based browser, an App market and, of course, the Android operating system.

But critics of the G1 have been disappointed with what they say is the phone’s sluggish touch screen and poor battery life. Criticism aside though, the T-Mobile G1 will be regarded as the phone that introduced the Android operating system to the world. As reported recently on ITP.net, networking vendor Huawei is to launch a smart phone based on the Android OS in 2009 and, hopefully, Android compatible phones will soon be on sale across the Middle East.

Despite all the hype around certain web-service, software and hardware releases in 2008, there were a number of tech winners. Amidst a global financial meltdown, Netbooks have become a popular and cheap alternative for computer consumers. Another highlight in 2008 was the rise of Twitter as a prominent social networking service. Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users' updates (known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length. During the tragic Mumbai bombings, much of the breaking news regarding the bombings became known on Twitter.

After considering all the important tech-developments in 2008 and the fact that the current economic crisis is forcing everybody, including tech-developers, to be more innovative, 2009 should be yet another interesting year.

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