Solidifying its powerful monopoly on duck-related online content, the privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo is now the proud owner of duck.com. The development comes after Google finally relented in an age-old dispute.
DuckDuckGo is a search engine that draws on search results from hundreds of sources and doesn’t create profiles for user data and shows everyone the same search results—two points that are antithetical to Google’s search approach. It flies under the radar but that doesn’t mean it isn’t popular. According to its online tracker, it’s currently fielding about 25 million direct search queries a day. It’s still no threat to Google, however, which runs about 3.5 billion queries each day. So, the fact that Google has refused to give up the domain name “duck.com” for almost a decade has been a point of frustration for the little search engine.
In 2009, Google purchased On2, a company that specialised in video bandwidth reduction. On2 was previously known as the Duck Corporation and owned the Duck domain name, so Google acquired that in the purchase, as well. DuckDuckGo launched a year prior to that sale and its lust for the duck.com domain wasn’t so much about it being incredibly popular, but rather that the domain redirected to Google. DuckDuckGo has said that the situation “consistently confuses” users.
NamePros first broke the news that the fowl domain now belongs to DuckDuckGo on Monday and visiting it will redirect you to its search engine. Progress started to be made in the dispute over the summer when a Bloomberg reporter criticised Google for withholding the domain and Google exec Rob Shilkin responded with an olive branch. Shilkin said that he looked into the situation and the redirect had been changed to send users to On2.com.
DuckDuckGo’s founder Gabriel Weinberg thanked Google for the gesture of goodwill, but still asked the company to consider selling him the domain name. It’s unclear whether Google demanded payment to seal the deal. We reached out to both companies to ask if it was a gift. A Google spokesperson would only tell us, “Google has agreed with DuckDuckGo, Inc. to transfer ownership and rights of the duck.com domain to DuckDuckGo.” DuckDuckGo did not immediately respond to our request for comment, but Weinberg told NamePros, “We’re pleased Google has chosen to transfer ownership of Duck.com to DuckDuckGo. Having Duck.com will make it easier for people to use DuckDuckGo.”
However the situation played out, it seems that all parties are getting something. Google loses a stupid addition to its anti-competitive image, and DuckDuckGo solidifies its brand. Whether it’ll produce a significant uptick in users remains to be seen, but never underestimate the number of people searching for “fuck” and getting auto-corrected by the iPhone.