What is wrong with Google, and why would anyone need to look for an alternative? After all, isn’t it the best search engine in the world? And who needs better than the best?
Well, there is nothing wrong with Google’s search – but Google is an ad business, not a search business: and for that reason, its formidable technical capability serves the ad, not the search master. To target users better as ad consumers, Google collects ever more of their data and tracks them across the web ever more doggedly; and it will rank those ads above any organic search result.
Therefore, whatever’s wrong with Google is to be corrected by adopting a business model that is opposite to that of the behemoth.
A new startup, Bloom – although billing itself as “the free and open source Google” – doesn’t put search in its focus, either – perhaps exactly because Google’s main point as a business, in reality, is not search, despite this perception still being alive among the users.
Instead, Bloom is focusing on fixing what’s wrong with those things that Google fundamentally is – a collection of apps, powered by advertising and tracking.
Bloom wants to grow into an innovative and successful app-maker itself but based on very different principles: by taking the route of free and open source software, and security of the data that it hosts – while making its money by charging for the hosting service and for support.
As any free and open source product, Bloom will need a community to rely on, and plans to reinvest money made from charging for services into open infrastructure, and into freeing data and making scientific knowledge more available.
The startup makes a point of the staying power of collaborative products that are developed by such communities, noting that open source “allows projects to survive not only the bankruptcy of a company, but also an economic war, or being cut off from the internet.”
Another of Bloom’s pillars is open data, unrestricted by copyrights or patents.
The suit of Bloom’s apps powered by open source includes an online drive, an automatic security scanner for websites, a download manager for torrents and HTTP downloads, a music player, a photo and video gallery, a contact manager, and a note-taking app.