Zig When The Other Guy Zags: A Crappy Search Engine.com

I’m a big believer in, as my old friend Ed Horst so eloquently puts it, zigging when the other guy zags.

When consumers first became sensitive to vehicle size and gas consumption, Cadillac created the oxymoronical Cimarron, the small Cadillac. (Who wants a small Cadillac? Answer: no one.) Cadillac zigged, and Lincoln zagged: at the same time, Lincoln made the towncar bigger, doubling down on the segment who wanted big, black, shiny luxury cars.

When consumers were worried about sugar and caffeine in their soft drinks, Coca Cola was busy decaffeinating and de-sugarizing. Then along came Jolt, with tagline “all the sugar and twice the caffeine,” clearly positioning themselves as something different, and laying the groundwork for today’s massive energy drink category.

So why I am writing about ACrappySearchEngine.com?

  • First, I always love contrarian positionings. Instead of the the endless “my PhD’s smarter than yours” (and therefore my algorithm’s better than yours) message on which Ask.com is spending $100M in a new ad campaign, the crappy guys are arguing that some junk mixed in search results (e.g., finding Curious George when looking for George Bush) is actually the right answer.
  • Second, I think there’s more than a grain of truth to their argument. How do we add the serendipity of a newspaper in an relevance-driven, alerts-driven web world? (See this post for more that theme.)

So while I like the idea of an Internet search engine that mixes things up a bit in the results, I won’t be making ACrappySearchEngine my default. Why? Because while the concept is fun, the implementation is amateurish. Perhaps a “crappy” algorithm with a nice UI and some iterative refinement would be nice. But as-is, the site’s not there yet in my opinion.

Here is Valleywag’s take. Check out their about page for more.

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