Maybe you might not know that I've used DuckDuckGo as my primary–and only one–search engine on every browser I use (Firefox, Tor, and qutebrowser). I love how I can contribute to smaller for-profit company like DuckDuckGo so Google (and Bing) is not alone and dominate the market. But you know what, there is no new Search Engine out there.
Its just a wrapper like what every browsers in iOS did, basically it just Safari.
Yes, DuckDuckGo use Bing API and StartPage use Google API. So when you search on DuckDuckGo basically you search on Bing. This is understandable: Build your own search engine is very expensive. But you know what? There is some "differentiator": Its not track you.
Yes, DuckDuckGo and StartPage doesn't track you. They (claimed) doesn't track your search query, doesn't track any personal data (like IP Address), etc.
I will tell you the difference
On using big-co services
Let's say you use Bing, and you are either logged in or not, they track you. They track what you search, what your IP Address is, etc. They use it to serve you a "better" a.k.a "personalized" ads so you will get ads based on your interest, not the random ones.
They can give you a personalized ads by profiling you anywhere you are. From any query you search, any site you visit, any service you use, etc. Why they did it? Because to keep the service "free". Yes, are you pay any cent to use Google/Bing?
Its like win-to-win solution, but its not. First, you see ads. Its win-to-win solution, you use the free service so you see the ads.
Second, they profiling you. Tracking you. Now the score was 2-1, Google/Bing is owe you something they never pay to you.
On using the alternatives
Even DDG and SP are using "their" services via API, the difference was: They doesn't track you. How they do that? Simple, they pay them. DDG pays Microsoft so they can use Bing API. SP pays Google so they can use Google Search API. There is no such a free lunch, so they pay them.
So, how DDG/SP get revenue? By showing you ads. The difference was, that's not-personalized ads. They show you ads based on query you use. So, if you search something like iPhone X, probably you will see iPhone X ads because that was what you want, right?
The ads maybe contain a affiliate links but (they claim) it doesn't "reflecting" you. Maybe they "changed" the original IP, anonymized your IP, proxy-ing the request, etc. The main point was the data is not reflecting you.
And its good.
Because building Search Engine is expensive
Yes, everybody knew it. You need to index billion of domains, billion of URLs etc that exists in internet. Including the indexing, sorting, and ranking algorithm.
But it seems DDG starts to build their own SE (since there is some user agent called "DuckDuckGo Bot", and this is such a good news. As now DuckDuckGo search result was good enough, and very useful while combine it with "hashbang" mode.
Using existing SE API is a good way and win-to-win solution between the provider and the business owner. I can't talk much about this in business perspective but as far as I know that was.
There is no such "vain effort" when using the alternatives. Maybe the search query are recorded to their database (API provider), but the main point was there is no data that reflecting you from that query.
Personalized ads in any level is not good. But business needs profit and the easiest way was by serving their users ads. "If you are not paying for it, you are the product" is a classic word, but that was right. Because there is no free lunch and company wants profit.
Maybe you can't beat the big-co, but you can support the small ones that sell the values and mission-driven. I enjoy using DDG as my primary search engine and (probably) will never look back.
Mostly I'm using Google for stalking someone, it means I will never stalking someone anymore :)
Thanks for reading this. I don't hate Google, not too much. I just only want to support the small business with the mission. The startup typical, right?