I always love to see new indigenous Irish companies getting a break. But when I read a newspaper article about an Irish company who were about to launch a new visual search engine, I thought to myself “oh no, someone else has been duped into parting with their hard earned cash!”.

A “visual search engine” is nothing new by any stretch of the imagination. There are a number of high profile visual search engines already up and running on the web for some time. In fact one of the leading visual search engines (searchme.com) has recently shut its doors. Their once innovative website sits looking deserted, with what can only be described as a desperate plea to raise cash by selling their IP to anyone who will take it off their hands! In the company press release, they stated that they needed to raise at LEAST $100 million to compete with the likes of Google, Bing or Yahoo!. This should be a stark reality check for Mugurdy, since it’s straight from a company that had already pumped $44m into their doomed idea.

But who cares huh?
We’re Irish after all and we all love the under dog… Surely Mugurdy can pull this one out of the bag with their Irish fighting spirit!

Wrong…

I stumbled across the sites release after reading a post on Boards.ie which said:

“I just thought I’d drop in a link to http://www.mugurdy.com which is a search engine we’ve been working on for a while now. It’s not finished, is basically still in beta, but I’d be interested to hear any feedback on it!”

I’m not entirely sure what Mugurdy’s strategy is here. If this is their plan for promoting the website, they really need a reality check. Remember, Microsoft pumped $1 billion into the marketing of their new Bing search engine to try compete with Google. If Mugurdy think that posting a link on one of Ireland’s most popular web properties is the way forward, they should really think again. I do┬áhope they have a better strategy for promoting their site┬áthan this.

Anyway, I decided to play around with the search itself, to see if I would ever use a search like this. Now I know from using other visual search engines, that they just don’t give me what I expect from a search engine that I would be someone hard to please. Let’s face it, I search for information, not for pictures. I can see a use for a visual search engine for certain things, like looking for the prettiest website in a particular sector or to find a website that I a visual memory of what the website looked like. But for finding specific information, visual search just doesn’t cut it.

The first thing I noticed when I visited mugurdy.com was the homepage… They obviously went for the simplistic look made famous by Google. But they left out one key element of the Google homepage that Google value so much, their copyright notice. I’ve spoke before about why Google value their copyright notice (click here to read) and if Mugurdy want to compete with the big boys, they need to start researching in depth why things work so well for Google. There is plenty of free material available out there with studies on how people interact with Google.

As I continued on, it was clear that Mugurdy simply didn’t have the quality results that Google would have. I don’t knock them for that, we’ve seen how hard it has been for every other search engine on the web to come up with the quality of results that Google possess.

It didn’t take me long to realise (again) that visual search just isn’t for me, and never will be. For me, it’s much quicker and easier to hold my ctrl key and click each link on Google results to open a new tab. I can click 4 or 5 that interest me and by the time I’ve clicked the fifth result, the other 3/4 before that will have loaded into a full browser window in a new tab. You just can’t beat that simplicity.

It really makes you think about how companies are getting investment in Ireland. In the past year or two I’ve seen a lot of good start up businesses with great web ideas struggling to raise investment. Then you see companies like Mugurdy being invested in when they clearly have little chance of success. If our investors keep investing in ideas like this, we’ll have no money left to put behind really high potential start ups.

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