Why would you want the “Bing insanity” to stop?

Microsoft’s Bing gets frequently bashed for being a hopeless project. But should Microsoft kill it off and focus on other things?

Business Insider’s Henry Blodget pushed out a blog post calling Bing “still toast”. I recommend reading the article as it provides an interesting insight into what feeds the search giants.

The article also makes a few points that make no sense to me. Essentially, the post seems to claim that Bing has no chance of gaining sufficient market share (30% in the US) to become profitable, dooming it as a business.

image Why did Google succeed 10 years go? Because they provided great search, consistently. But recently, Bing has been the one to innovate (see my previous posts for some examples). Whether or not they provide great search is a matter of perspective, but undeniably they beat Google in some scenarios, and have been improving their pace continuously.

Here’s another great article on search and why the Google antitrust complaints are relevant. Quick summary: Google’s hold on the traffic flow allows them to promote their own services over other entrepreneurs, stifling innovation. Then again, Blodget says search is a platform with a “natural monopoly”?

Google’s lead seems unbeatable. While Bing has improved a whole bunch, its search results still clearly lose to Google in some things. It has to learn to win consistently before it can really win people over. But Altavista and others were quick to lose when Google came on the scene, and it can happen again.

And yeah, I agree Bing is a desperate business for Microsoft. Desperate businesses can succeed, but often they do not. Still, I’m so glad about Steve Ballmer’s obsession: if it weren’t for Microsoft challenging Google, who then?

March 30, 2010 · Jouni Heikniemi · 4 Comments
Posted in: Web

4 Responses

  1. Jaba - March 30, 2010

    I'll gladly welcome all the competition, it keeps things moving.

    But I think ten years ago I swithed to Google not only thanks to its search results, but the uncluttered and fast interface. AltaVista, Yahoo etc started to create their "portals" and over a slowish net connection that was not so pleasant.

    Today the network bandwidth is not an issue at home or at work. But constantly increasing demand to perform searches with the mobile devices still require a simple interface. Using Google with my Nokia E90 is very simple, especially with the Google Mobile software (I just press Ctrl and the search window pops up). And even if not using that, Google automatically recognizes I'm using a mobile phone and shows me the mobile interface by default.

    This is where Bing still lacks. If I surf to bing.com with my Nokia, it shows me by default the heavier interface with background image and stuff. It takes around 5 seconds to load and them 5 seconds of CPU burning before I can perform a search.

    If I surf to m.bing.com, there's a mobile interface, but its usability is a bit poor. There's very wide (with the Nokia E90 full keyboard and wide screen opened) text field waiting for your input and the "perform search" button at the right corner. To search I first need to type in my search string and then manually move the pointer over the button and then click it. The pointer in Nokia E90 is a bit slow to move, so mobile searching with Bing easily takes tens of seconds more than with its Google counterpart.

    With Google's mobile interface I can just type in the text and then click enter. It searches without any need for a separate search button clicking.

    Yes, I know this is nit-picking, but currently this is one of the reasons I truly prefer Google over Bing while on the road — and mobile searches are very common for me nowadays. I admit my phone is ancient and Bing might well be a more pleasant experience with some latest touch-screen gizmo.

    * * *

    Also, 10-15 years ago things were different. ask.com, altavista.com, hotbot, and a whole plethora of other search engines simply lost to Google. Today Google is HUGE and it's hard to beat a search engine when its became practically a verb.

    A while back Cuil was supposed to give Google some decent competition. See where it is. Cuil who? Wolfram Alpha might have a loyal set of users, since it's genuinely a different beast. Even if Ballmer would like to, Bing is not going to f*cking kill Google anytime soon, even if Microsoft is pouring money over its development and marketing.

    That's a bit shame, since Bing Maps has some neat features (or, at least technology demoes), even if some of those have been available in Google Earth (the separate application) for a while already. The recent real-time video layered over street view was cool in Bing Maps, though.

  2. Sami Poimala - March 30, 2010

    If it weren't Microsoft it were Facebook. Recently it took over Google on daily users, and next it starts conquering the whole internet.

    I can imagine the headline "Facebook releases an own search engine so it's users don't have to leave Facebook ever".

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