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Sometimes winning the brand wars is all about timing. Yesterday was Microsoft's day to shine. The software giant released a new product meant to loosen Google's vice grip on the search market. They hope that Bing will change the way people search online. But then a funny thing happened. Google had its own product launch.
While Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was announcing Bing at the All Things Digital conference in San Diego, Google unleashed the Google Wave, a product in development for over four years. And while Ballmer spoke to a room full of executive, a group of Google engineers announced their news to 4,000 developers armed with free Google phones at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco.
Google currently controls about 64% of the online search market. With Yahoo managing about 20%, Microsoft is a distant third with about 10% of the market.
And while Google's new product is not search related, the company was able to steal Microsoft's thunder by piggybacking on their announcement. It probably helped encourage enthusiasm for Google that the company gave all attendees at the I/O Conference free Google Android phones the day before. The company also mentioned on Wednesday that they would have a big announcement the following day. Attendees were primed for the news. And it worked.
Developers bounced out of their chairs with enthusiasm at the announcement of Google's new open source communication tool. TechCrunch even nabbed the above photo of a man jumping from his seat with his laptop over his head. You could say that the Google Wave was met with a bit more excitement than Bing.
And that continued online. News and chatter about Bing quickly shifted to theories on the potential for Google Wave. Today, "Bing" is the 31st most popular search topic on Google Trends, while "Google Wave" is 33. But searches for "bing" also include other things named Bing, including former NBA star and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and the tagline from HBO's "Sopranos" show "bada bing." Searches for "Microsoft Bing" are down at 63rd on the list.
The Google Trend results point to another problem with the marketing of Bing. It is a common phrase, and it will be hard to distinguish Bing the product from other things that "bing" or are named "bing."
Microsoft hopes that bing will "verb up," (users will "bing" something, they way that we all "google" now) but that could be a source of confusion since the word bing already exists in the lexicon.
We'll have to wait and see. If Bing works better than Google at searching, people will use it. Even if it there are only a subset of people who like it and searches that are bingworthy, the engine will help Microsoft get its foot in the coveted search market.
But the missteps that Microsoft has already made with the Bing rollout point to the fact that the software giant still has a few things to learn from Google.