What Can We Expect From Brave’s New Search Engine?

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For almost two decades, Google has dominated internet search. Many startups and established businesses have tried to knock Google from the top spot but ultimately couldn’t make it work.

This was also the case with the Mozilla-approved outfit, Cliqz. When the development of its search engine prematurely ended, the team regrouped to work on an alternative, Tailcat.

Brave, the privacy-focused web browser, recently announced they had acquired the former Cliqz team to develop its own search engine. So, what can we expect from Brave Search?

Brave Search waitlist

Brave Search is an upcoming search engine provided by Brave Software Inc, the Brave web browser developers. This new venture is expected to launch in 2021 and is based upon an open-source engine called Tailcat, developed by the team behind the privacy-centric browser, Cliqz. According to the company, Brave Search will be the default provider on its browser and available to all internet users across any browser.

Like the Brave browser, Brave Search will be a privacy-focused alternative to Google search or Microsoft’s Bing. The company has the ambition to create a multi-platform private browser and privacy-focused search alternative to the Big Tech providers. Despite the dominance of social media sites and apps, most people still primarily interact with the internet through search, so this development adds to Brave’s overall ecosystem of services.

Brave hopes to develop an API for Brave Search, allowing its results to be used by other search providers, too. This multi-service approach is key to many alternative search engines, including the Google alternative DuckDuckGo. While Google funds its platform using intrusive ads, Brave is exploring how to support Brave Search and its other ventures sustainably. The company is investigating free ad-supported versions utilizing Brave Rewards alongside a premium ad-free experience.

Currently, Brave hasn’t given a timeline for when Brave Search will launch, but it’s likely to be sometime in 2021. Before launching for everyone, Brave plans to release Brave Search to a limited number of early-access users. In return for this exclusive access to the new search offering, Brave will gather feedback to ensure the service works correctly before giving it a general release. You can sign up for the waitlist on the Brave Search website.

What Is Brave?

Brave browser viewing Google

Brave is a privacy-focused web browser. Rather than using an entirely different base technology, like Mozilla Firefox, Brave is one of many open-source Chromium-based browsers. The world’s most popular browser, Google Chrome, is also based on Chromium, with added Google services. Chromium isn’t entirely integrated with the search giant’s services, but many key browser components still connect to Google’s servers.

Brave uses Chromium as a foundation but removes the attachment to Google services, effectively creating a de-Googled edition of Chrome. While Firefox is the most well-known privacy-focused browser, it uses different technology, so some websites don’t work correctly, and many Chrome-specific add-ons aren’t compatible. Brave is a best of both worlds solution, offering the privacy benefits of Firefox coupled with the compatibility and ease of use of Chrome.

Brave is an open-source project, and there are editions for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux. The browser first launched in 2016, and by February 2021, had amassed 25 million monthly active users. Brave has added new features on top of the core browser during that time, including a cryptocurrency wallet, the Basic Attention Token (BAT), and the Brave Rewards program.

What Was Cliqz?

Cliqz search on desktop and mobile

Before coming together to work on Tailcat, the development team was previously employed by Cliqz GmbH, a software company majority-owned by Hubert Burda Media Holding. The company’s primary product was a web browser based on Firefox. As an open-source browser, anyone can fork Firefox and continue development in a way they see fit.

Like Brave, Cliqz was a privacy-focused alternative browser, building upon Mozilla’s user-centric features. The browser came with an anti-tracking mechanism to prevent advertisers from gathering data on you as you browse the internet. Notably, it was also bundled with its own search engine. The Cliqz team created an index of sites, which helped answer your searches in the browser’s address bar.

Many web users will also have come across the Ghostery add-on for Firefox, Chrome, and a handful of other platforms. This browser extension offers a way to detect and block internet trackers. In 2017, Cliqz acquired Ghostery from Evidon, a marketing analytics company. While Ghostery exists as a standalone product, the company used the technology to inform its offering.

The organization’s vision was to create a privacy-focused web browser with anti-tracking features and a private search engine. Unfortunately, the combined cost of attempting to compete with Google and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic meant that Hubert Burda Media Holding withdrew funding in April 2020. The team began working on the Tailcat search engine before becoming part of Brave Software, Inc. in 2021.

Can Brave Compete Against Google?

Brave Search coming soon

Google is dominant in internet search, with many even referring to its position as a near-monopoly. While some people use Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, it trails as just 2.69 percent of the market against Google’s 92.05 percent. As the Tailcat team found, competition with Google is not only expensive but also increasingly unachievable. However, Brave isn’t necessarily positioning its search engine against Google’s.

This isn’t solely intended as a mainstream alternative but as a privacy-focused search for Brave users. Mirroring Google’s multi-service approach, Brave is building an ecosystem of privacy-friendly products. The browser itself is the centerpiece, with complementary services like Brave Rewards, Brave Search, and the BAT cryptocurrency adding to the experience.

Big Tech companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon use their ecosystems to lock you into a particular set of services for the companies benefit. This is one the key reasons you should decentralize your data. Conversely, Brave hopes to forge a similar path with their user’s privacy at the forefront, rather than information gathering and data-hungry ads. The browser has quickly become a favorite with users, although specific usage stats are hard to come across.

By default, Brave blocks the tracking scripts for the most commonly used market share analysis sites. Even if it didn’t, it shares the Chromium base of Chrome and effectively looks like Chrome to most tracking services, making it hard to measure the browser’s penetration accurately. Still, the company estimates the browser has 25 million active users per month, and as it expands its offering, it will likely add many more.

The Best Privacy-Focused Search Engines

There’s a growing uneasiness about the dominance of Big Tech firms. These US-based companies have come to control how users worldwide access the internet.

Not only does this cause issues relating to censorship and, as some suggest, a form of digital colonialism, but these companies profit from mining your data. Every search you make, product you buy, email you send, and app you install is monitored to some degree.

Brave Search complements the company’s existing privacy-focused services. By integrating search alongside a privacy-friendly ad platform, Brave may be able to challenge Google in a way that others couldn’t.

However, you don’t have to wait for Brave Search to stop using Google. Fortunately, there are plenty of privacy-friendly search engines you can use right now.

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