DuckDuckGo has grown 600% since Apple made it a search option (and NSA revelations)

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Speaking in an interview with CNBC, DuckDuckGo CEO Gabe Weinberg said that the company’s traffic has grown 600 percent over the past two years. A variety of factors likely played a role in this explosion of growth, but it is mainly attributable to the NSA’s surveillance program, which was revealed two years ago, and Apple adding it as a default search option with iOS 8 and Safari 7.1 on the Mac. Google, however, has remained the default option.

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With iOS 8, Apple added the option for users to choose DuckDuckGo as their default search engine within the operating system. Weinberg explained that this, coupled with increased privacy concerns, has led to extraordinary growth for his company. On iOS 8, DuckDuckGo joined Yahoo and Bing as an alternative to the default Google search

Google has stated in the past that a huge portion of its mobile search traffic comes from iOS. While Google is the default option, Yahoo and Bing have both tried in the past to take it.

Another big factor, however, is the growing fear that users carry when it comes to privacy.

DuckDuckGo heavily touts the fact that it doesn’t track the information of users and is a privacy-focused company. For instance, DuckDuckGo doesn’t offer any sort of personalized search like Google does. Google often catches criticism for its collection of user data, even though it continually promises that nothing is ever shared about its users. It has been reported in the past that the NSA tapped into Google servers and accessed the data of millions of users.

Weinberg says that DuckDuckGo is currently doing three billion searches a year. When asked how DuckDuckGo makes money without any sort of personalized search, Weinberg explained that the company simply uses keyword advertising. For instance, if you search for “car,” you’ll see ads relating to cars. Weinberg says that there isn’t a big enough difference between the revenue DuckDuckGo would make by tracking users compared to keyword advertising to justify the method.

Weinberg points out that users likely don’t realize how much data Google is collecting on them and what it is doing with that data. This is how DuckDuckGo will continue to grow and win over customers, Weinberg says.

The revelation of the NSA’s surveillance program two years ago opened the eyes of many users to the fact that they need to worry about privacy. In many ways,  deservingly or not, Google has bared the brunt of privacy concerns and allegations and that’s further shown by the growth of DuckDuckGo over the past two years.

You can watch the full interview with DuckDuckGo CEO Gabe Weinberg here.

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  1. chrisl84 - 8 years ago

    I would bet it they changed their name to a one word name it would go up another 600%. Duck Duck Go is just annoying to say.

    • totencough - 8 years ago


      • chrisl84 - 8 years ago

        Oh right because removing the spaces makes it verbally one word. Why didn’t I think of that. Lesson learned

  2. If I had any say over what Apple does, I’d have them release a small patch to iOS5, 6 and 7 to not only include DDG as an optional search provider, but to make it the default one, as well as making it the default in the next 8.x version and iOS 9. It would also only make sense to include it as the default in all new Mac OSX installs.

    I do hope that the issue of DDG destroying the browser search history is fixed – very problematic on the desktop.

    • DuckDuckGo is an optional search provider on both iOS and OSX. If you want to use it on iOS simply go to “Settings” > “Safari” > “Search Engine”

  3. crichton007 - 8 years ago

    I started using DuckDuckGo before it was an option on iOS or Mac because I do value my privacy. Regardless of what any pundit says people do value their privacy once they understand what they give up along with it. And for those few times I don’t find what I’m looking for I just add !g and I’m good.

  4. Robert Brunkow - 8 years ago

    Just call it Duck then you could tell someone to “duck it”

  5. “Google has bared the brunt…” That should be “Google has borne the brunt…”

  6. cvnadagroup2017 - 8 years ago


  7. bloodymerzkizzoid - 8 years ago

    Duck Duck Go ftw!

  8. standardpull - 8 years ago

    I’m surprised DDG hasn’t grown faster. I have been happily using it exclusively over the last 8 months without issue.

    I tired of Google for a few reasons. First, the ads. Have you gone to lately? Sometimes more 80% of the content on the first search results screen are ads. What an awful change! Being tricky, sometimes they show no ads. The effectiveness of Google search has simply plummeted.

    And then there is Google’s privacy posture. Google does not clearly state how the use the volumes of data they collect about me. They just say they use it for “their services”, but they don’t describe their full roster of services. Is one of them the FBI support service? They dont say. Google could tell me where my data goes if they wanted to. They just chose not to.

  9. Wildcat1 (@Wildcat_1) - 8 years ago

    Just wish DuckDuckGo allowed you to filter results by time (last 24 hours, week, month etc) like google, really miss that feature in trying to find the latest results for something you are searching for.

  10. Ilya Geller - 8 years ago

    Being structured information searches for people by itself – no search engines are needed, they are unnecessary intermediates.

    I discovered and patented how to structure any data: Language has its own Internal parsing, indexing and statistics. For instance, there are two sentences:

    a) ‘Sam!’
    b) ‘A loud ringing of one of the bells was followed by the appearance of a smart chambermaid in the upper sleeping gallery, who, after tapping at one of the doors, and receiving a request from within, called over the balustrades -‘Sam!’.’

    Evidently, that the ‘Sam’ has different importance into both sentences, in regard to extra information in both. This distinction is reflected as the phrases, which contain ‘Sam’, weights: the first has 1, the second – 0.08; the greater weight signifies stronger emotional ‘acuteness’.
    First you need to parse obtaining phrases from clauses, restoring omitted words, for sentences and paragraphs.
    Next, you calculate Internal statistics, weights; where the weight refers to the frequency that a phrase occurs in relation to other phrases.
    After that data is indexed by common dictionary, like Webster, and annotated by subtexts.
    This is a small sample of the structured data:
    this – signify – : 333333
    both – are – once : 333333
    confusion – signify – : 333321
    speaking – done – once : 333112
    speaking – was – both : 333109
    place – is – in : 250000
    To see the validity of technology – pick up any sentence.

    Do you have a pencil?
    The numbers on the right – the weights. My technology obtains 100% of all patterns from data, obtains all internal statistics.

    Information searches for people based on their profiles of structured data, which has no any value for anybody – they cannot be read and understood and can be used only by their owners: 101% privacy.

    All search engines are the last relict of medieval epoch, nobody needs them.

  11. spiralynth - 8 years ago

    With the exception of YouTube, I haven’t used or owned a single Google related product for three years now (stopped using Google Search in 2012 and Gmail in 2006). I was using Dropcam until Google bought them last year, and immediately after, the thing went into the trash bin. I had no desire to even try to sell the thing.

    Though I have absolutely nothing to hide as a person, I simply value control of my privacy. Any company that publicly touts that anyone who uses their products or services should have “no legitimate expectation of privacy” will get none of my business. Ever.

  12. Kuro Pixel - 8 years ago

    I like DuckDuckGo, but the search results are not great when using Japanese. I have to use the “!sp” bang command to search Startpage instead.

    However, I’m so glad Apple added DDG as an option. It’s great to have a choice and a search engine that respects our privacy.

  13. DuckDuckGo has been a great improvement to my iPhone search experience. It feels less cluttered and I feel less like a somebodys product. I had the Safari plug-in installed on my desktop but didn’t use it so much until I finally just changed my search engine in the search preference pane. They will continue to see growth numbers like this for a while. Nice to see.


Avatar for Chance Miller Chance Miller

Chance is an editor for the entire 9to5 network and covers the latest Apple news for 9to5Mac.

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