Can DuckDuckGo Be A Threat To Google Business Model?

It’s hard to know right now how big the “online privacy” market will be. As I pointed out on “How To Build A Business Model Based On The Market Leader Weakness” DuckDuckGo (DDG) is leveraging on a Google weakness to build up momentum (it is essential to clarify that since 2009 DDG has grown pretty fast).

Thus, as of now DuckDuckGo, value propositionwe don’t track you, we don’t collect, neither share your data” is quite powerful, and it is working as a propeller for its growth.

Yet, when it comes to DDG business model, it still makes money via Advertising and Affiliate Marketing. Advertising is shown based on the keywords typed into the search box. Affiliate revenues come from Amazon and eBay affiliate programs. When users buy after getting on those sites through DuckDuckGo the company collects a small commission.

Can DDG still grow? It can and it probably will; as privacy concerns grow, especially over Google and Facebook monopolies, the “online privacy” market might keep growing quite quickly.

In short, the paradox is that as those multi-billion dollar digital advertisers can’t live without your data, the more privacy will become a concern, thus a business opportunity. On the other hand, a business model is made of many moving parts.

Therefore, even though DDG might continue to gain traction and it might do so via the existing monetization strategy and other rounds of financing, it will need a viable business model (to compete against a tech giant like Google) any time soon.

Also, as search is moving toward mobile, voice and other kinds of online discoveries; traditional search might become secondary. True, the Lindy Effect tells us that something unperishable – like search technology – that lived for 20 years might live for at least other 20 years. However, it might not tell us much about the adoption rate.

Indeed, it might be true that the search market will still be a technology that will exist for the next twenty years at least. Yet it might be that the rate of adoption will be way lower than it is today. Imagine the scenario where you are given several ways to consume content, and traditional search is just one of them. How many chances there are that people will still keep using it?

Google itself is using its cash cow (the advertising network comprising AdWords and AdSense) to reinvest massively in voice search, and as other tech giants like Apple (with Cortana) and Amazon (with Alexa) are also investing massive resources on that, the way we consume content might completely change in a few years. And once again search might still exist but as a niche of a much broader market that offers many other ways of consuming content.

In that context, DDG might make a great niche search engine and alternative to Google but nothing more; yet if DDG can grow faster, find a sustainable business model (for such intended both profitable and able to allow DDG to scale up) and move also to voice (assuming you can enable voice search based on the privacy of its users) then we might see the birth of another tech giant, one the founded its success on privacy!

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2 thoughts on “Can DuckDuckGo Be A Threat To Google Business Model?”

  1. DDG won’t ever get massive because they are just as opaque as google is in that they don’t open source their code and are hosted on Amazon, which is just as bad (or worse) at tracking users as google is. Plus, the founder of ddg sold the names database for 10 mill USD before he started ddg and has a history of selling user data. He cannot be trusted to run a closed source search engine. An alternative is Jive Search or Yacy.

    1. Hi Steve, that, of course, is your point of view which you’re free to express. So far I like DDG as an alternative, and I know its story (I covered it here: The fact that Gabriel Weinberg (DDG founder) has successfully and previously sold a company doesn’t make him a bad person, neither someone that can’t be trusted. He’s a business person, so of course, behind DDG mission there is a massive business opportunity, and I do believe the “online privacy” market will grow exponentially. I agree that Yacy might be a good alternative (I covered it here: however, I’m not sure it can scale. I also covered Presearch which might turn out as another possible alternative (here: Right now we need diversity. Google is the absolute monopolist, so anything that proposes an alternative might be good. Of course, anything that scale and controls the market might turn out awry. So that might be true of DDG if ti were to become a tech giant. In short, the issue might be more in the scale than product itself.

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