"It is a slightly arresting notion that if you were to pick yourself apart with tweezers, one atom at a time, you would produce a mound of fine atomic dust, none of which had ever been alive but all of which had once been you." -- Bill Bryson For those of us with only mortal brainpower, Bill Bryson's vivid imagery renders the concept of complex systems accessible. Complex systems are those that are greater than the sum of their parts; they have properties that cannot be explained through reductionism; they are economies and hurricanes and you and me. Search is a complex system.
Microsoft's co-founder and current chairman Bill Gates praised the company's investments in Windows 8 and Bing, but said Microsoft is still not doing enough to innovate.
Successful innovators ask users to embrace--or at least tolerate--new values, new skills, new behaviors, new vocabularies, new ideas, new expectations, and new aspirations. They transform their customers. Successful innovators reinvent their customers as well as their businesses. Their innovations make customers better and make better customers.
While Google keeps cramming its search results pages full of tools and social content, today Bing confirmed with me the full roll out a redesigned search results page that completely clears the left sidebar, and replaces the tabbed header with a cleaner set of links.
When starting a new Web site or Internet service, most technologists are aiming to sell to a larger company or gain hundreds of millions of users. But for some there is an even bigger glory than cash: their company name becomes a verb.
Microsoft Corp. and Facebook Inc. unveiled a plan to improve the results of Microsoft's Bing search engine by tapping into peoples' social connections on Facebook, amping up the rivalry with Google Inc. The companies described the agreement—a deepening of an existing partnership—as a big step in improving the personalization of search results for everything from movies to restaurants. The deal could also give Microsoft a way to distinguish Bing from Google's market leading search engine.
Outside of a tectonic shift in search results/quality – think how offering 100x more email storage encouraged people to switch webmail companies back in 2004 — people are not going to ditch Google as their primary search engine. And Google isn’t taking any chances – by paying Dell $1B for their search toolbar to be pre-installed on new Dell PCs, or pushing Android (who’s the default search engine?), they are doing their part to make current habits continue and lock down their whole “supply chain.” For Google’s enemies, the best way of hurting the search goliath is not to build a better search engine, but rather to give people a reason to stop searching for a wide class of goods and services by preempting search on Google.
By now you've heard the offense against basketball star LeBron James' one-hour TV special to announce his team choice -- that it was narcissistic, sullied his brand and blurred the journalistic line for ESPN. But what you haven't heard is the defense of the man who helped put the show together: uber-agent Ari Emanuel, who says "The Decision" forwarded the paradigm for advertiser-funded programming.
Did ESPN just get "mediajacked"? Come Thursday, in prime time no less, ESPN gets the exclusive. But to do it, the Disney sports network appears to have sacrificed revenue -- and even some journalistic control by letting Mr. James choose one of his interviewers -- in exchange for the ratings and buzz the event is likely to provide. Commercial revenue from the special program -- which is being called "The Decision" -- will be donated to Boys & Girls Club of America, a charity that ESPN and Disney also support.
LeBron James' decision to use a prime-time ESPN special to announce where he'll play for the next few seasons shows TV still matters more than Twitter, but the hourlong show may also hurt the basketball star's humble brand image. It's surprising that TV will get the big moment first, instead of the internet, where his day-old @KingJames Twitter account already has more than 232,000 followers, or even cellphones, where the phone-number harvesting going on at LeBronJames.com suggested he might try something like candidate Barack Obama's attempt to announce his running mate by text message. The special will also be broadcast on ESPN Radio.
According to Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, who spoke at the Aspen Ideas Festival recently, Twitter is handling 800 million search queries per day. At Twitter’s Chirp conference in April, Stone said Twitter was serving 600 million search queries per day — 33% less than the microblogging service is processing now.
Mapquest today unveils an easier-to-use, redesigned site and revamped logo as part of the AOL-owned brand's efforts to stay competitive in an increasingly crowded space. Visitors can opt into the new site via a call-out atop the current home page, or by typing new.mapquest.com in their Web browsers. For the next few weeks, Mapquest -- which had 49.1 million unique U.S. visitors in May, per comScore -- is allowing users to switch back and forth between the two sites while it evaluates their feedback.
World Cup mania is about to begin and that means one thing: it’s a social media branding opportunity! On Friday, in time for the first kickoff, Bing is going to release a World Cup badge on Foursquare which can be unlocked by people who follow Bing on the service.
CEO Steve Jobs also unveiled some new metrics. Among them: Apple expects to control 48% of the mobile display ad market in the second half of 2010; it already has $60 million in commitments for its mobile iAd format; and it has paid out more than $1 billion in revenue to app developers. Here are some takeaways from Mr. Jobs' presentation at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference today.
It is often said about the internet that you cannot advertise your way to market share. At least that's what former Ask.com CEO Jim Lanzone will tell you. Priceline.com and Hulu, of course, have other ideas. So what of Microsoft's $100 million campaign for Bing? Its query share hit 11.8% in April, according to ComScore, up from 8.4% since Microsoft's search service was re-launched 10 months ago. "Bing continues to impress with continued market share gains," Citibank analyst Mark Mahaney said in a research note.
I spent the last 36 hours visiting with various folks at Microsoft, including CMO Mich Matthews and head of MSN/Bing Yusuf Mehdi. I also spoke with a number of senior marketers across the company and had a chance to preview a bunch of recent and percolating thinking in a talk I gave yesterday. All in all, I came away with way more ideas that I started with. The musing below is just one of them.
It's hard to believe that a year ago, Google and Apple were still best friends. Google CEO Eric Schmidt was on Apple's board. Plenty of Google employees proudly showed off their iPhones. All seemed fine as the two companies took on their common enemy, Microsoft.
As soon as I decided I wanted to explore the question of where search was going, I knew sooner or later I had to talk to John Battelle. John wrote what I still consider the definitive look at the industry, The Search, in 2005. Since then, in addition to running Federated Media, he has continued to be one of the more thoughtful, visionary, frank and opinionated voices in this space. Recently, his musings have taken on a decided tone of discontent. In a few recent blog posts, Battelle mused that search, while not necessarily “broken,” may indeed be increasingly falling short of our expectations. This lined up well with my own feelings that relevancy may no longer be an adequate proxy for usefulness.
If Google Inc. decides to close the door on its search engine in China, it might open a door for Microsoft Corp. The software giant's Bing search engine is among the potential beneficiaries if Google goes ahead with its threat to close its Google.cn site amid a dispute with the Chinese government over censorship. Although Bing has struggled to gain traction in China, Microsoft has already hired away at least three people from Google's China business, after aggressively pursuing them following Google's threat, according to a person familiar with the matter.
MSN on Tuesday officially debuted its refurbished home page, with a greater focus on Bing-powered search, local content, in-line video, and top social networks. "This marks the beginning of the ramp-out over the next couple weeks of our new home page here in the U.S.," said Erik Jorgensen, ccorporate vice president at MSN. The new site, which went live in beta form last November, also includes a new MSN Local Edition, which will exist as a stand-alone Web site, but will feature prominently on the relaunched MSN home page.
Want to know how Google is about to change your life? Stop by the Ouagadougou conference room on a Thursday morning. It is here, at the Mountain View, California, headquarters of the world’s most powerful Internet company, that a room filled with three dozen engineers, product managers, and executives figure out how to make their search engine even smarter. You might think that after a solid decade of search-market dominance, Google could relax. After all, it holds a commanding 65 percent market share and is still the only company whose name is synonymous with the verb search. But just as Google isn’t ready to rest on its laurels, its competitors aren’t ready to concede defeat.
In my last column, I had the chance to chat with Bing Director Stefan Weitz about how Microsoft is approaching search as it sits today. But the question I asked that lead to the interview in the first place was “Where does search go from here?” Microsoft’s Bing team certainly has its own ideas of where search might be going and that’s what I’ll be covering in the continuation of my conversation with Stefan. Ultimately, I’m looking at how search can become more useful for users. Right now, there are two huge challenges that are boxing in search as a tool that’s truly useful in our day-to-day lives. The first is an input challenge. Language is notoriously ambiguous. In my last post, Stefan and I talked a little bit about the challenge of semantics and search. When I say “Jaguar,” what do I mean? Is it an animal, a NFL team, a car, an operating system, or some other obscure meaning that has crept into usage somewhere?
In a demo that drew gasps at TED2010, Blaise Aguera y Arcas demos new augmented-reality mapping technology from Microsoft.
What does your search engine say about you? Well, if it's Bing, you're probably an early adopter, but you also visit, shop and ultimately make purchases from Walmart more than other search-engine users. Google searchers, on the other hand, are partial to Target and Amazon, and Yahoo searchers have a strong preference for wireless service from AT&T and Sprint.
We all love to hate the evil empire, but let's be fair. Microsoft has humbled itself dramatically, and the company is sincerely trying to do a good job with Bing. The team at Redmond is getting used to their unexpected position as the underdog and, based on my conversation with Weitz, they're beginning to relish the challenge that comes from playing David to Google's Goliath. My quibble, however -- and it's not an insignificant one -- is that Bing needs to step up its differentiation.
There's no such thing as real-time search. Without the context behind the status updates on Twitter and Facebook, the characters and words strung together in semi-quasi-sentences reflect a bunch of data points -- or garbage in an endless chain of gibberish. Now that Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and others have figured out a way to make the Internet come alive as events happen, the next challenge will become filtering the garbage that real-time search creates.
BusinessWeek is reporting and solidifying what was previously an almost unthinkable rumor: that Bing might become the default search engine on the iPhone (and iPod Touch). The way BusinessWeek frames it this becomes a case of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
A BusinessWeek piece named Apple vs. Google discusses much of the recent competitive business products the two companies have. On page three of that article, there are some analysts who suspect Apple may drop Google, as the default search provider, to Bing.
2009 has been a great year for Brand New, with a bottomless source of new and redesigned identities from around the world, and we’ve all had good fun critiquing them in sickness and in health. But it all comes down to this: The Best and Worst. I have gone through all the archives and selected the top 12 in each category. There were some dead-ringers for each category and some that required a little more self-deliberation acknowledging that some identities were left off the list. And just as well, I know my selections may incite some disagreements, which are more than welcome as we bring this year to a close.
As we become increasingly dependent on the Internet, we need to be increasingly concerned about how it is regulated. The Federal Communications Commission has proposed “network neutrality” rules, which would prohibit Internet service providers from discriminating against or charging premiums for certain services or applications on the Web. The commission is correct that ensuring equal access to the infrastructure of the Internet is vital, but it errs in directing its regulations only at service providers like AT&T and Comcast. Today, search engines like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft’s new Bing have become the Internet’s gatekeepers, and the crucial role they play in directing users to Web sites means they are now as essential a component of its infrastructure as the physical network itself. The F.C.C. needs to look beyond network neutrality and include “search neutrality”: the principle that search engines should have no editorial policies other than that their results be comprehensive, impartial and based solely on relevance.
For those keeping score, here’s how the rankings of search engines have changed since Microsoft entered the race with Bing six months ago. Google, of course, remains the runaway leader and there are no signs that its market share will do anything other than keep inching up. It went from 65 percent in May to 65.6 in November, according to data released by comScore to analysts late on Tuesday.
Google’s search results pages will never be the same. In an effort to secure the lead in its quest for dominance in “real time,” Google recently announced exclusive feed deals with Twitter and Facebook, delivering a punch to Microsoft which had just announced advances of its own in the social media realm of tweets and updates.
If you’re at all like me, then you find Web search pretty frustrating when it comes to figuring out the local weather forecast. You pop a city’s name into a search engine and get a list of a few different weather sites. Oddly enough, they often have quite different forecasts for the days to come. The question remains: sweater or no sweater? Microsoft has taken some steps to solving this riddle – and a number of other irksome Web quandaries — through some fresh updates to its Bing search engine that it unveiled Wednesday.
Microsoft’s top search technology executive on Wednesday all but dismissed the likelihood that the company would pay newspaper owners and other publishers for removing their content from Google. His comments came a week after it emerged that Microsoft had been in talks over a News Corp-led initiative that would have paid publishers to leave Google as a way to boost Microsoft’s own search engine, Bing.
When a media industry insider last week floated the idea of an exclusive deal to list News Corp. content on Microsoft’s Bing search engine, stiffing Google in the process, it drew some predictable responses. Bloggers and technology analysts crowed that Rupert Murdoch, News Corp.’s septuagenarian chief executive, had conclusively proved that he just didn’t understand the Internet. Some people in the newspaper business said hooray for Uncle Rupert, standing up for the value of old-fashioned content and telling the geeks with their algorithms to get lost. Google, meanwhile, made the reassuring noises it does anytime anyone raises the possibility that its goals, and those of the media companies whose content it indexes, might not be 100 percent aligned. Google said it provided news organizations’ Web sites with 100,000 clicks a minute, every one of which “offers a business opportunity for the publishers to show ads, win loyal readers and sell subscriptions.”
News Corp. is considering blocking Google’s search engine from displaying its news articles and is talking to Microsoft Corp. about displaying stories on its Bing site, people familiar with the situation said yesterday. MediaNews Group Inc., the Post’s publisher, will block Google News when it starts charging readers in Pennsylvania and California for online content next year, Chief Executive Officer Dean Singleton said in an interview. Morning News owner A.H. Belo Corp. may also introduce online subscription fees and also block Google, Executive Vice President James Moroney said.
News that Microsoft is delaying the much-heralded launch of its Bing search engine till at least quarter 1 of next year shows how hard it is for a "follower brand" to take on a strong leader brand, in this case Google. Bing has been available in the UK since June of this year, although it has not had any marketing activity. So far, it has less then 5% market share, compared to 90% for Google (combining the .co.uk and .com sites). My guess is that even with marketing support Bing will struggle to get more than 15-20% market share at most. Why?
News Corp.'s talk about listing its sites exclusively on Microsoft's Bing sounds unpromising in several ways, but all of Rupert Murdoch's recent agitation and exploration are at least pushing one fact back to the fore: Web traffic only gets publishers so far in their quest for digital ad dollars. After a certain point, actually, traffic may not even matter. More traffic means more bragging rights and helps attract advertisers who need to reach a lot of people quickly, but each new increment of visitors is something less than a new gold mine. Most sites, for one thing, already have much more inventory than they can sell.
Microsoft has had discussions with News Corp over a plan that would involve the media company being paid to “de-index” its news websites from Google, setting the scene for a search engine battle that could offer a ray of light to the newspaper industry.
Drum roll, please. Search engine Google topped Forrester Research's survey of consumers' favorite online brands, though respondents ranked the company low on qualities like "trustworthy," "relevant" and "fun." Forty-four percent of consumers rate Google as their favorite online brand in 2009, compared with 36% in 2007. The search engine dominates in wealthy homes. Fifty-five percent of those bringing home more than $100,000 annually rank Google No. 1. It appears relevance is still a weakness for search engines. None ranked above 35% in this category. In fact, only 25% of Google fans rate the engine as relevant. That's a category where Yahoo and Microsoft inch ahead at 33% and 30%, respectively. Meanwhile, only 35% of Google fans view the brand as trustworthy and reliable, while only 6% of YouTube fans say that company had the same attribute.
With Google's Social Search experiment, Bing's integration with Twitter and Yahoo!'s partnership with One Riot, social search clearly has both potential and momentum. But what will social search look like, and will it help us search better? And if it will, how?
Bing and Google recently announced partnerships with Twitter and Facebook to provide elements of real-time and social search to their respective search engine results. On the surface, this probably blew past most business owners and marketers as not much in the way of being important. If the information is online, aren’t Bing and Google supposed to find it? And, frankly, the partnership has some interesting implications, but isn’t phenomenally noteworthy … yet.
Over the past several weeks, leaders in the search industry launched an aggressive, very public series of campaigns designed to capture the elusive future of search mind and market share. The accelerated evolution of “real-time” search, introduced to us mostly through the adoption of Summize, which was eventually acquired to now serve as Twitter search, inspired both Google and Bing to release new iterations of its search engine to now include live Twitter results. Bing also announced a deal with Facebook to include status updates and shared content that were intentionally earmarked for public consumption – although this is expected to go into effect at a later date. Each announcement was strategically timed to release during the prestigious Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco while the technology world focused on tomorrow’s trends discussed during the show. With the great deal of attention thrust upon these two industry giants, Yahoo is now rumored to also have a real-time strategy in the works. Unlike Bing and Google however, Yahoo is potentially seeking to either partner with or acquire a current real-time search player.
Microsoft’s Web portal MSN today unveils its most significant redesign in a decade, as the company looks to increase engagement on the property while spurring usage of its fledgling Bing search product. “We think we’ve designed the best home page on the Web,” said Scott Moore, U.S. executive producer, MSN. According to Moore, the new home page is designed to focus on four key areas of overarching consumer interest: video, social networking, search and local news/information.
Yes, there's a bit of a circus going on with real-time search, and a new player seems to appear weekly. Meanwhile, we get predictions of how Google and Bing had better do something soon with it -- or else. Let's try to rein it in a bit, starting with, just what is real-time search? You know what web search is -- do a search, get web pages. Image search? Search, get images. So real-time search gives you -- real times?
I was lucky enough to have been invited to Jeff Pulver's 140 Conference at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles earlier this week. It was quite "the conference" and a manifestation of just how important Twitter has become across a wide range of industries and arenas. The organizers did an incredible job of bring 140 speakers to LA who represented the broad ecosystem of Twitter's world-those present included; Hollywood social media managers, CMOs, poker players, sportswriters, small business owners, VCs, authors, publishers, musicians, educators, politicians and more. Here are 10 learnings that I took away from the experience.
A few years ago, I interviewed usability expert Jakob Nielsen about where search might go in the future. He shared an interesting insight:"I think there is a tendency now for a lot of not very useful results to be dredged up that happen to be very popular, like Wikipedia and various blogs. They're not going to be very useful or substantial to people who are trying to solve problems." That stuck with me. Relevance, as determined by search algorithms, and usefulness are not the same thing. And then, John Battelle touched on the same topic in a blog post a few months back: "So first, how would I like to decide about my quest to buy a classic car? Well, ideally, I'd have a search application that could automate and process the tedious back and forth required to truly understand what the market looks like."
Last week was big for Twitter. After years of speculation about whether the company was going to have a business model, Twitter announced two deals at our Web2 conference - first with Microsoft's Bing, and second with Google. Details of the deals were not disclosed, but as Google's Marissa Mayers admitted onstage, there were indeed financial terms.
On Thursday, Google co-founder Sergey Brin made a surprise visit to the Web 2.0 Summit and was interviewed on-stage by John Battelle for about 18 minutes. Our full notes from that day are here, but the video above gives a good sense of where Brin’s head is at right now.
The search advertising market is coming back, and Microsoft's Bing is slowly gaining share of search-ad dollars. With Google's third-quarter earnings announcement coming Thursday, two digital agencies released aggregate client search-spending data from the third quarter. The takeaway: Search spending among U.S. marketers is on the rise, gaining from the second quarter and getting close to matching spending levels of a year ago after several quarters of decline.
Are pictures really worth a thousand words? Microsoft hopes so. Today, the Seattle-based software behemoth took the stage at TechCrunch50 to unveil visual search, the newest feature for its new search-engine, Bing. Bing's visual search displays search results by pictures, rather than text, which comes in pretty handy for certain types of searches. Say you're searching for a pink handbag to buy: Click the handbags category, filter by color, and see loads of images to choose from.
It will be at least nine months -- and probably closer to a year -- before Microsoft takes over Yahoo's search infrastructure, theoretically consolidating 28% of the U.S. search market and mounting the first credible challenge on Google in a decade. But it's not too early for marketers to wonder if they need to ask: Do we, uh, speak Bing? One thing is certain: figuring that out is going to amount to a mini stimulus package for digital agencies and search-engine-optimization consultants in the first half of 2010.
Every year, the market-research firm Millward Brown conducts a survey to determine the economic worth of the world's brands — in other words, to put a dollar value on the many corporate logos that dominate our lives. Lately the firm's results have been stuck on repeat: Google has claimed the top spot for the past three years. The most recent report values Google's brand — those six happy letters that herald so many of our jaunts down the Web's rabbit hole — at more than $100 billion. What's astonishing about this stat is how effortlessly Google seems to have earned the public's affection. Other companies — Microsoft, Coke, IBM, McDonald's — spend enormous sums to stay in the consciousness. Google, which makes most of its money from ads, rarely advertises itself. Telling the world how well it does what it does just isn't Google's way.
Some pundits talk about Internet users having a “Google habit” that keeps them hooked on Google and keeps Google the No. 1 Internet search engine. That habit is far from harmful, and consumers don’t feel a need to kick it for a simple reason: Google gives them what they want.
It’s no secret that even with their recently-announced alliance, Yahoo and Microsoft will lag well behind Google in the hugely profitable search and search advertising business. How far behind? With a combined 28 percent of the American search market, Yahoo and Microsoft could double their usage and still trail Google, which accounts for 65 percent of the market. But by another important measure, the two sides are much closer. ComScore found that for the combined Yahoo-Microsoft, “searcher penetration,” or the percentage of the online population in the United States that uses one of those search engines, is 73 percent. Google’s searcher penetration is higher, but not by that much: at 84 percent.
Yahoo's long nightmare is over, having finally offloaded its search business to Microsoft after years of rumors, negotiations and reversals. Now all it has to do is figure out what comes next. A new era at Yahoo began the minute CEO Carol Bartz signed the paperwork turning over the right to conduct searches on Yahoo's huge network of Web sites to Microsoft in exchange for 88 percent of the revenue generated by Microsoft's Bing. Now Yahoo is first and foremost a media company, in the business of attracting as many people to its properties as possible in hopes of selling lucrative ad deals on those pages.
Microsoft Corp.'s deal to join forces with Yahoo Inc. in the Internet search and advertising businesses could create a counterweight to the online muscle of Google Inc. It may also help Steve Ballmer end the worst slump in his career at the helm of Microsoft.
Microsoft and Google's increasingly captivating competitive dance took another turn on July 29 with the announcement of a search partnership between Microsoft and Yahoo. The deal could create a viable competitor to Google--or even more enticingly build very different kinds of growth businesses.
After years of foreplay, Microsoft and Yahoo have made it official: They're cozying up in bed together. The major beneficiary will be Bing--it'll usurp Yahoo search, boosting its Google rivalry power.
Yahoo is close to making Microsoft's Bing its search provider. The deal, which would make Yahoo a more credible competitor to Google, is likely to be announced this week, and seems likely to be based on a revenue share, not on a big fat check upfront, as some at Yahoo had hoped.
Perhaps nothing better illustrates how far behind Microsoft is in the search engine wars than a recent comment by the company’s chief executive, Steve Ballmer, about why he liked the name Bing for Microsoft’s new competitor to Google.
If you wanted to research something—the musician Johnny Cash, for example—would you go to a search engine or a library? There are many studies on search usage. It’s safe to say that at least 50% of people now turn to search engines for information. That number increases for certain types of searches, such as shopping or health information. If you are young and grew up in the technology age, the likelihood increases. So our young person may try Google and type in “Johnny Cash” at first. But I doubt it.
It's been just over six weeks since the birth of Bing. While I didn't actually say Microsoft's new search baby was ugly, I was less than optimistic about its chances of unseating Google in a popularity contest. So, with every measurement panel carefully following Bing's debut, I think it's time to see just how the little engine is doing in the search (oops, make that "decision") sandbox.
In late May, Microsoft unveiled Bing, its new Internet search engine, in front of an audience of skeptics: technology executives and other digerati who had gathered near San Diego for an industry conference. To that crowd, Microsoft’s efforts to take on Google and Yahoo in the search business had become something of a laughingstock, and for good reason.
Microsoft is dipping its toes into the hot new area of real-time search. The company said Wednesday that Bing, the search engine it unveiled a month ago, would begin including the latest output of popular Twitter users in its search results.
There are many ways to slice and dice search query intent: Navigation vs. browsing. Entertainment vs. information. Commercial vs. non-commercial.
We love to solicit advice. Friends and family can be reliable advisers; fortune cookies, maybe less so. The Web in its glorious abundance could guide every imaginable personal decision, but it is guidance from strangers.
An extraordinary day of breaking news on Thursday led to record-breaking traffic spikes as people searched online for information about the deaths of Farrah Fawcett and, especially, Michael Jackson. And just like their counterparts in traditional media, the news divisions of Google, Yahoo, and Bing responded with sometimes extraordinary measures to ensure they were giving searchers the most accurate and current news available.
Bing gets to the point quicker more often than Google. Search engine query results are organized better by a series of filter options and a more welcoming design, according to a report released Thursday from Catalyst Group.
In the new Bing-enabled world, search is hotter than ever. Your entire Search Insider lineup has been trading quips and forecasts about the future of search. Aaron Goldman thinks Hunch may be the answer to my call for an iPhone of search. Today, I want to talk about why Wolfram|Alpha is very, very important to watch. It's not an iPhone, but it is changing the rules of search in a very significant way.
A few weeks ago, I attended a panel discussion about climate change where former Vice President Al Gore referred to the United States as an oil "junkie." At the time, it occurred to me that Americans have another addiction, albeit less pernicious: searching with Google. Surely as we use our cars to get around, we use Google to launch our Web queries. As of March, Mountain View owns 72% of the searches made online. We're Google junkies.
As much as I like Bing and think that it has effectively closed the gap with Google from a user experience perspective, it's going to require drastic measures to catch Google's market share and revenue. That said, as Microsoft has often stated, we're still in the early innings of the search game and Bing may just be the rally-inducing hit Microsoft needs. But we're still only talking about the search game here. As Gord said, "The iPhone isn't a mobile phone, it's a mobile Web and computing device. The phone is secondary." Bing is still a search engine -- actually, more of a search portal. What search needs is an iPhone. What search needs is a decision engine. Not a search engine with a tagline that says decision engine, but a true decision engine.
If I were on some weird reality show (I know, the "weird'" is redundant), where they made me hire a search strategist, and they only let me give one instruction, it would be this: To understand search, you have to understand human behavior.
Microsoft is often referred to in the tech industry as "the ultimate platform player," because its considerable fortune has been earned by dominating platforms, most notably the Windows platform that most of the world's PCs use. Lately it has been adding platforms, notably Xbox, which has morphed from a games platform to an interactive device capable of serving all varieties of content, including streaming videos and access to social networking sites and services, and it continues to develop its Windows Mobile platform, whose latest iteration is version 6.5.
You'd think nothing would get under the skin of search giant Google. But co-founder Sergey Brin is so rattled by the launch of Microsoft's rival search engine that he has assembled a team of top engineers to work on urgent upgrades to his Web service, The Post has learned.
Despite all the bling that has been spent on Bing, few people are giving Microsoft's new search engine much chance of stealing away even a fraction of Google's dominant market share. That makes sense when you consider the strength of Google's brand - the term 'Google' has become the verb for undertaking an online search. The brand, we are reliably told, is now the world's most valuable, with an equity of more than $100bn.
Microsoft is hoping, of course, that Bing will wipe out Google's dominance in one fell swoop. That, next month, their $80 million ad campaign will cause their 8% market share to morph into 80%. That they'll finally be able to put that pesky Google decade behind them. They won't, of course. They won't because they seem to be forgetting some key fundamentals of the space in which they operate.
I want to Bing. I want to be Binged. I want to hear the Binging bells from a million laptops ringing the news that there might be an alternative to Google's dominant bong. So I was only too delighted to hear that two TV ads have already emerged to do the Binging ringing.
In my last column, I proclaimed search to be going out of business. So what comes next? The answer lies in the question "why?"
That's THE question to ask: Will our advertising effect consumer actions, and not simply awareness, perceptions and attitudes? But, there's a follow on question to ask: Once advertising has moved someone to experience our brand, will said experience cause them to change their habits? To become a "customer?"
In seeking to make the new search engine Bing as much a part of the popular culture as “bada bing,” Bing Crosby or Stanley Bing, Microsoft is buying prominent placement for bing.com inside television shows and the online video hub Hulu.
I seem to be in the minority. Everybody (including fellow Search Insider Aaron Goldman) seems to be jumping on the Bing bandwagon. It's generated some good initial reviews, and Aaron goes as far as to say, "Bing is far and away the most serious challenge to Google that anyone's ever posed."
Microsoft's first TV ad for Bing, its new search engine, breaks today, and it's nothing if not dramatic. The 60-second spot, titled "Manifesto," mentions being "lost in the links" in the same breath as bank bailouts and the collapse of the financial market.
From Google Wave to Susan Boyle, social media has been in full swing this week. Both Google and Microsoft decided to launch new products, while the social media starlet Boyle sang her heart out on the finale of Britain’s Got Talent. There has been no shortage of social media buzz.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled Bing.com to the public on Thursday, as expected, at the All Things D conference in San Diego. It will go live worldwide by June 3. But if Microsoft has come up with a clear improvement over Live.com — the also-ran search portal that Bing replaces — it doesn’t quite go far enough to make us feel that it’s time to dump Google.
Microsoft is searching for an answer to a tough problem. That problem is Live.com, which many may not even know is Microsoft’s search engine. While it’s not technically bad, it’s far from being the leading search engine –handling less than ten percent of all searches in the U.S.