June 14, 2009

Google Keeps Step With Bing

The New York Post recently reported that after the launch of Microsoft's new search engine, Bing, Google co-founder Sergey Brin began working with a team of engineers to make urgent upgrades to Google.

According to sources inside the powerful tech giant, Brin is leading the effort along with a team of search-engine specialists to determine how Bing's essential search algorithm is different than that of Google.

Bing, formerly known as Windows Live Search and MSN search, is a web search engine advertised as a "decision engine" and Microsoft's newest version of its search technology. Revealed by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on May 28 at the All Things D conference in San Diego, Bing serves as a replacement for Live Search. It became fully available online June 3.

One insider, who requested anonymity, told The Post: "New search engines have come and gone in the past 10 years, but Bing seems to be of particular interest to Sergey."

Google founders don't typicallly get involved in the everyday grit of company operations, which makes this action from Brin noteworthy and gives the impression that he considers Bing to be a viable competitor.

Though unwilling to go into detail about Brin's interest in Bing, a Google spokesman said, "We always have a team working on improving search." He added, "We dedicate more time and energy to search than anything else in our company. Our algorithm is constantly evolving."

Bing's introduction to the world was given a massive marketing budget that reportedly ranged between $80 million and $100 million.

Microsoft has struggled to successfully compete in the Internet-search business with its former MSN search engine accounting for a mere 8% of the profitable search market share, which trails far behind Google's 60% and Yahoo's 20% share.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer even unsuccessfully attempted to buy Yahoo in an effort to compete with Google. Shortly before the advent of Bing, Microsoft had still expressed an interest in striking some sort of deal or partnership with Yahoo search. 

With Bing being so well received, such ambitions have been quelled.

The new "decision engine" has been warmly welcomed by analysts, critics and users who seem to appreciate Microsoft's new approach to Web search. Early statistics show Bing increasing Microsoft's market share by two percentage points, to about 11 percent -- but that the gains largely didn't come from Google or Yahoo!

Bing sports a colorful home page and easy-to-navigate search categories unlike Google's less exciting white page and search box. Though presented as something incredibly different than it's rival, Bing can boast little to no difference when it comes to searching for simple terms.

A spokeswoman for Microsoft claims that Bing is focusing on improvements in search results in four main categories: shopping, travel, health and local searches.

Scott Kessler, senior equity research analyst at Standard & Poor's, and a Google specialist, said that though Bing has a lot of potential, it is not expected to have a substantial impact on Google's preeminence in Internet search.

"In a recent survey we found that the predominant features that dictate how people search the Internet are ease of use and force of habit. Google has been so dominant for so long that it will be tough for anyone to take significant market share away from them."


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