Ged Carroll

Bing versus search giants

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I have been playing with Bing for a little while now, so here’s my thoughts. The first thing that struck me about Bing is that most media commentators don’t get it. A classic example of what I mean is The search continues by Paul Taylor of the Financial Times (June 4, 2008). In his article Paul compares Bing to Google.

Steve Ballmer would definitely like to be Google, because he knows that the Microsoft heartland of productivity and enterprise software is going to be offering much lower margins when it goes into cloud computing. Ballmer has no choice but to go after the search market.  But in order to fight the shark in the fish tank he first of all has to get Microsoft’s search products up to a challenger weight to take on Google. The first way that this is happening is the efforts that Microsoft has done to use Google’s size and success against itself in a set of regulatory judo moves. The second step is try try and fatten up on smaller fry.

If you are going to gobble up one of the smaller fish you don’t have that many choices. Whilst Yahoo! got mauled by Microsoft, having to jettison Yang from the CEO chair along the way, it is still alive and kicking with a larger marketshare than MSN/Live/Bing search (though curiosity kicked Bing into second place for a few days during its launch).

The ideal second choice is



Bing JPG

In case you missed that last statement the likeness of the home page and the Bing home page are strikingly similar in customisation and layout.


The positioning against Google is try and give Bing some credibility but the results and the search audience experience says that its all about Do you think Bing would have really got any air time from Paul Taylor if they had said we’ve brought out a new search engine that is just like

Industry innovator?

It would seriously damage Microsoft’s aspiration to be seen as an industry innovator rather than kludging together products that kind of look like the real thing. The copier is something that the company has been dubbed with countless times before for good reason:

Bing isn’t truly innovative (I am sure people worked hard to get it out the door in the same way they would at a Russian tractor factory, but its not innovative in a transformational way); its an imitation of a well-established fading product in Ask. It is the search engine equivalent of an over-the-hill punch drunk journeyman boxer who is easy prey for a frustrated large but untalented bully to reign down punches on. The whole thing feels a bit grubby to me: less successful crooning innovator Bing Crosby (he helped pioneer the use of tape recorders in studios, funding Ampex’s research into the area building on AEG’s Magnetophon), more like the mafioso catchphrase Bada Bing.


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