According to The Guardian, DuckDuckGo has seen a surge in the number of searches conducted–mostly thanks to the NSA freaking us all out with its poking around our privacy.
While the hockey-stick growth chart looks impressive, it does need some perspective. With 4 million queries a day, DuckDuckGo has reached the lofty numbers achieved by Google…back in 1999. Its one billion queries in 2013 is paltry compared to Google’s one trillion.
The problem for DuckDuckGo might be its niche appeal. Unless the search engine can compete in the quality department, attracting users on the basis that it offers more privacy than Google, offers a finite pool from which to fish. Not everyone is concerned about privacy and personalization of search results means Google can better predict my interests when I’m on the road and looking up something from my phone.
The other question to ask, is how many of these searches are driven purely by those looking to conduct a private search. In other words, how many people are still using Google for 99.99% of their searches, but turn to DuckDuckGo just for the odd search, they’d rather the NSA (or Google) know about? How many people have permanently switched to DuckDuckGo?
I’m not saying that DuckDuckGo can’t wrestle away market share from Google, but remember how cool and loved Google was back in 1999? I find it hard to believe that DuckDuckGo can scale to any meaningful size without it too becoming just a little big Googley.