I've been keeping a curious eye on Microsoft's Bing search engine for a while now. I liked what I saw, but I still maintain that there just aren't very many features to distinguish Microsoft's new offering from tried-and-true Google. Apparently a lot of people disagree. Earlier this week the New York times posted an article that shows some impressive numbers coming from Bing.
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Right now, barely two weeks after launch, Bing holds 11.1% of the U.S. Search engine market, and 15.5% of users have tried Bing at least a few times. That's a very solid early start for Microsoft and, although Bing is still young, it is at least showing some serious promise.
Of course a lot of this early success has more to do with Microsoft's 80+ million dollar advertising budget than anything else. A few minutes ago I was bombarded by simultaneous Bing ads online and through my television. Redmond is throwing a huge amount of money behind promoting Bing and turning it into a household name. It's working pretty well so far, but I have my doubts about the extent to which that strategy is capable of succeeding.
Google has managed to transcend brands in the same way that Xerox has. Both companies managed to get a high-quality product out early enough that people began to associate the use of the product with the company name. You don't 'search' for things anymore, you 'Google' them. I think that Bing has come along far too late in the game to establish itself that firmly in the public mind.
That's not to say Bing doesn't have a chance to succeed. Advertising can do a lot to get users, and if Microsoft can continue to improve and broaden Bing's functionality they might even hold on to some of those users. I don't see Bing eclipsing Google, but it could establish itself as a semi-popular alternative.
The best thing about Bing is the competition that it is going to engender between Microsoft and Google. That same New York Times report stated that Google has begun to look at Bing as a serious opponent, which means that they must be dreaming up counter-measures even as I type. When corporations compete for consumers, we all win. A Google in 'combat mode' is going to offer more innovations and new features than ever before. The same is true for Bing.
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The Bing/Google rivalry holds a lot of promise for all of us. I4U News will be there to document it every step of the way.