Another “independent, privacy-preserving search engine” has recently launched, through the privacy-first Brave browser. It’s not the first ‘back to basics’ search engine to arrive on the scene, and nor will it be the last.
Seeing just a plain list of search results, last spotted on Google about twenty years ago, still comes as quite a surprise. However, it’s the fact that Brave Search doesn’t track users, their searches, or their clicks, which may appeal to many users.
The business model which allows Brave to create a privacy-first, ad-free browser and search engine may work for that organisation, but it wouldn’t work for Google. The advertising revenue pouring into the world’s largest search engine is tens – perhaps hundreds – of dollars per user each year, so to make up for that (perhaps with a subscription service) would surely be a non-starter. The number of users willing to pay a substantial premium to remove adverts and other commercial clutter from search results, and avoid tracking, would surely be too small to make such an offering viable. Apart from anything else, it would undermine Google’s claim that the advertising enhances the search experience.
However, it’s possible that we’re seeing a trend, and if major players like Apple ever came on board, you never know. One thing we’ve learned in the history of ‘tech’ is that seemingly monopolistic players are often brought back to earth unexpectedly.