Since the dawn of the Internet, there have been dozens of search engines (Bing, Yahoo, Ask Jeeves, etc.) that have tried to win over the loyalty of web surfers. Google was launched in the late 1990s and rose to the top of the search engine pile. Today, it performs around 3.5 billion search queries every day – and has a European rival that wants to beat it.
Back in June of 2013, a French startup called Qwant created a search engine with the goal of drawing European Internet users away from Google. The name comes from the term “quantum” in the world of physics. Qwant boasts that it’s different than Google and since its launch, it has grown a significant following. One of the search engine’s focuses is on privacy. While Google tracks and monitors the behavior of its users, Qwant doesn’t.
In an article by Financial Times, co-founder Jean-Manuel Rozan says, “You don’t need to keep someone’s data to give them something relevant… The direction the internet is taking makes it inevitable that people are going to need privacy.”
Without tracking and monitoring, users won’t experience an influx of ads on other websites that are based on their recent web activity. To many people, this is a feature that’s truly appreciated.
“The more Google expands and buys other internet businesses it wants you to visit, the more there is a market for products like ours,” Rozan says.
Qwant also offers variety. When you perform a search, Qwant breaks it up into five categories for you to browse – Web, News, Qnowledge Graph, Social, and Shopping. Unlike Google, Qwant pulls results from Twitter and its “qnowledge” result gives you fast facts about the term you’re searching. For instance, if you type “football” into the search bar, you’ll get a Wikipedia rundown of the rules of the game and how it’s played.
Unlike Google, the Qwant homepage is also customizable. You can choose the layout of your results (columns, lists, or mosaics), personalize what appears on your page, turn search suggestion on or off, and more.
In another effort to get Europeans on board, Qwant plans to release a search engine built specifically for children. Qwant Junior will promote more of an educational value and will be used in some French schools later this year.
Right now, Qwant has two office locations in France (Paris and Nice) and has fewer than 50 employees. While it made $1.8 million in its first year and performed around 1.6 billion search queries in 2014, it’s still a long way from taking on Google, but its creators seem hopeful.