Can Brave’s Home-Grown Search Engine Succeed?

Google search is still amazing

Key Takeaways

  • Brave’s new search engine relies entirely on its own web index.
  • Rivals like DuckDuckGo aggregate results from established search engines.
  • Brave’s search is in beta, and available to anyone, in any browser.
person using magnifying glass to enlarge their face

Marten Newhall / Unsplash

The privacy-first Brave browser has launched a beta web search, and unlike most other searches, this one runs its own index, instead of building on top of Google or Bing. 

It’s a brave move. Google has honed its search engine for years, and it’s truly excellent, once you get past the product comparison junk on the first page. Even Bing, which has the power of Microsoft behind it, isn’t nearly as good as Google. Ethical search engines like DuckDuckGo know this. Instead of trying to index the web all over again, they combine results from various existing search engines. Brave is going at it alone. Can it succeed? 

"I think it will be hard, but that doesn't mean companies shouldn't try. You'd basically need to carve out a unique selling point and corner that particular market," Christen Costa, CEO of Gadget Review, told Lifewire via email. 

Brave Plan

The beta search is open to anyone at search.brave.com, and can be set as a default search in the Brave browser on most platforms. Right now, there are no ads, and Brave says it doesn’t collect any information about you.

"Brave Search doesn’t track you, your searches, or your clicks. It’s impossible for us to share, sell, or lose your data, because we don’t collect it in the first place," reads the product page. 

"You'd basically need to carve out a unique selling point and corner that particular market."

Privacy is fast becoming a big deal. It’s always been important, but recently awareness has been on the rise, in part due to Apple using it as a marketing point, and partly because the exploitation of our private data has become so flagrant that it’s almost impossible to ignore. 

"I think people are becoming more aware," says Costa. "Sadly, we may still be a way off before the general population pays attention."

In this atmosphere, alternatives to Google search and Google Chrome are a breath of fresh air. 

"Private" signage on a red door

Dayne Topkin / Unsplash

"It's too early to make any conclusions, but it has a ton of potential, and Brave Browser's popularity will only rise in the coming months and years," tech and security expert Rameez Usmani told Lifewire via email. "Clearly, a million users are only the beginning. Brave Browser will thus play an important role in the future in providing internet users with a weapon to safeguard their online privacy."

This privacy is excellent, but no different from alternatives like DuckDuckGo. The thing that will make or break Brave search is the quality of its search results.

Brave Search

The best way to evaluate Brave search is to try it out for a day, doing the kinds of searches you would normally do with your default search engine. At first, it appears to be pretty good, but the real test is when you get deep into some research (or shopping), and you have to resort to Google.

My default search in all browsers is DuckDuckGo, and I have a bookmarklet that lets me quickly run the same search in Google if I’m not getting the result I want. I hit that many, many times per day, because DuckDuckGo doesn’t dig into the forum posts and Reddit threads I often want to see.

There are two ways to look at this. One is that, if you’re going to end up at Google, why not just always use Google? The other is to accept that sometimes you’ll need an extra click, and to put up with this minor inconvenience to preserve more of your privacy. 

Eventually, that will start to make a difference. Maybe not enough to push Google to stop harvesting your data to sell ads, but by then, if Brave gets good enough, it might not matter. And there’s one big reason to use Brave over Google: there are no ads.

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