What percentage of Yahoo responses are wrong
50 million trees for good answers
06/27/2019 | Online usage
By Alexandra Buba *
Google - this is a synonym for online search or even research in general. It has long been clear that the software giant's handling of its users' data is just as problematic as its monopoly position itself. However, these facts do not play a role for the majority of private users - the search engine's market share is still a good 85 percent. But some companies are now rethinking, including a law firm association.
Politically, ecologically and correctly, please - the demands that the current sustainability and moral doctrine places on us all are no less. Fortunately, one would like to say - for the planet and our fellow human beings. But what is completely clear in theory, not only requires a lot of commitment in practice, but also the will to break new ground.
Because whenever a question arises, the first point of contact for most people is Google. Why actually? In general, when it comes to monopolists, nobody really knows what to say, but in the case of Google the answer is simple: It's so convenient! A clever algorithm and very good ideas on how to earn money with it, with smart helpers for all situations, have made sure of that.
Bing is lagging number two in Germany
Superior technology and creative market cultivation were enough for the triumphant advance of the 20-year-old search engine, which is still unbroken today. In May 2019, according to StatCounter, their global market share was 86.91 percent, followed by Yahoo with 4.87 percent and Bing with 4.64 percent. The rest of the providers were in the range under one percent. In Germany, Google combined around 95.8 percent of search queries for its services in 2018 as a whole.
The best-known alternative to Google and number two on the German market is Microsoft's Bing. Its share of desktop inquiries is around ten percent, in the mobile sector it is hardly noticeable at less than half a percent. Overall, according to StatCounter, Bing came to 2.3 percent of the inquiries in Germany, Yahoo only 0.9 percent.
ETL is looking for green
Given these numbers, is an (entrepreneurial) life without Google even imaginable? And whether, at least thinks Marc Müller, board member of ETL AG based in Berlin (www.etl.de).
The consulting firm he represents now has 870 law firms - and they all had an alternative to Google for a few months. "7,000 employees start their working day via the company's intranet," he explains, "in the top right you will find the option of searching firmly anchored - with Ecosia."
This search engine of German origin has been around since 2009. What is different about it is its non-commercial approach. Because technically, Ecosia is based on Bing, for which all data protection problems apply as well as for Google. But at Ecosia, according to the company, the search queries are not stored permanently; In addition, no personal user profiles would be created based on the search history. In addition, Ecosia says it does not sell the data and search queries to advertisers, and the search queries themselves are encrypted. External tracking should also not be an issue.
The core idea of Ecosia is actually an ecological one: 80 percent of the profit that the search engine generates from advertising income is invested in the planting of trees. Over 50 million pieces are said to have already been planted in this way.
Are Worse Results Good Enough?
What is fine and good in itself does not say anything about the quality of the search results. Critics complain about the "green Google" that these are significantly worse - simply because Ecosia works with the algorithm and search index from Microsoft's Bing, which simply cannot keep up with Google due to the low number of users.
Of course - and this is where it becomes ambivalent - Google seems so accurate to us in daily use precisely because the results are refined using information such as location, previous search history or search settings. Less data protection means more convenience. But how necessary is this ultimately? And when does it actually make the difference?
Those who reflect on their own search behavior will find that only a few queries are so complicated or unusual that they require particularly finely structured result lists. Because - and that is part of the whole picture - anyone who is really bothered by a lack of accuracy and completeness should not be satisfied with the first page of results. But that's exactly what two thirds of all Google users do, according to statistics.
Is it only Ecosia privately?
Perhaps the thing that is often asked for in life is most likely to help: the compromise. It could be as little Google as possible and yet as much as necessary. Because while ETL board member Müller succeeds in mainly using Ecosia privately, most of those who use alternatives to Google on the desktop reach their limits when they pick up their smartphone. This clearly shows the analysis of user behavior, according to which Google's share in the mobile sector is over 98 percent, according to StatCounter.
If you want to avoid the giant here, it is much more difficult. Because behind the Android operating system, which has by far the largest market share in the mobile sector worldwide, is Google. Search engine and apps from in-house are preinstalled accordingly and the mobile phone is configured accordingly. Evasion is of course still possible - using third-party apps and adjusting the settings accordingly.
Anyone who wants to use Ecosia via their iPhone has to take similar detours at the moment. The makers are trying to have their search engine integrated directly into the iPhone Safari browser. However, until this works at some point, the corresponding app must also be used on the Apple device.
This procedure is more time-consuming than just typing quickly into the standard search field - whether the effort is ultimately worthwhile is left to individual considerations. In any case, it is better to do something than to refrain from doing anything.
Three Google alternatives
Ecosia: The green search engine is based on Bing and promises to provide 80 of its profits from advertising for reforestation projects. In terms of data protection, the principle applies that search queries are encrypted and stored for a maximum of one week. www.ecosia.org
DuckDuckGo: The best-known meta search engine has just under percent usage in Germany. The search engine uses 400 sources and also has its own web crawler. According to its own information, DuckDuckGo does not collect any personal information and shows the same results for all users. www.duckduckgo.com
Startpage: The Dutch search engine forwards the entered search queries to Google and displays the search results anonymously. Targeted advertising is expressly avoided; advertising is non-personalized. According to its own statement, StartPage has the most effective data protection guidelines of all search engines in the world. www.startpage.com
Alexandra Buba is a freelance journalist who specializes in the tax consulting industry (www.medientext.com). She writes regularly for the STB web editorial team.
Note: Please note the date of this article. It comes from June 27th, 2019, so that the content may no longer correspond to the latest (legal) status.
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