Microsoft's unprecedented advertising campaign to turn Bing into a household name continues on unabated. With Google weathering slings from the government and consumer advocacy groups, now is the perfect time for Microsoft to start making inroads. Right now, Bing holds steady as the third most popular search engine in the U.S, right behind Yahoo and miles away from Google. The question is, will it ever get big enough to yank the #1 spot out from under Google?
A new study from the Catalyst Group says...no, no it won't. They studied the surfing habits of 12 users and found that, after trying several search engines, 8 out of 12 wanted to stick with Google, primarily for reasons of comfort. The users were also asked to rate the search engines they used. Most of them rated Bing as the superior engine, but that didn't make them want to switch.
Obviously twelve people are too few to make any conclusions on, but it does illustrate a troubling trend for Microsoft. When it comes to search engines, users are past the point of comparison shopping. Even if Bing is an objectively superior product in every way (which it isn't) that still isn't going to be enough to overwhelm Google. Microsoft is going to have to beat the Bing meme into collective subconscious in order to gain real ground in the search engine war.
That's why they've invested a hundred million dollars into their ad campaign. I've said before that Microsoft's obsession with Google reminds me more than a little of Captain Ahab's quest for the White Whale. Studies like this only reaffirm that image in my mind. It's possible that Microsoft will win this war, but I think it's much more likely that Bing will end up being a hundred million (or even billion) dollar hole.
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