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Google commands a dominant share of the search market and there's no sign that this will change anytime soon.

But should it be worried about Microsoft's recently-launched 'decision engine', Bing?

Here are 5 reasons why Google should be worried about Bing:

  • Bing is decent. While Bing may not be revolutionary, it is decent. And given the impression many of us have about Microsoft, 'decent to good' is pleasant surprise.

    Case in point: although I still use Google by habit, I've been making a conscious effort to use Bing. That's something I wouldn't be doing if I thought the product was shoddy; this represents the first new Microsoft product I've started using on a somewhat frequent basis in a long time.

  • Bing still has momentum. According to comScore, Microsoft's gains with the launch of Bing were not a spike event. While Bing's long-term momentum is hard to predict, Google obviously would have hoped that Bing's gains would have done a Wolfram Alpha and evaporated overnight.
  • Microsoft is willing to invest. Yesterday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer stated that he was willing to invest 5-10% of Microsoft's operating income in search for the next 5 years. Based on Microsoft's current operating income, this would amount to an investment of up to $11bn. He likened this strategy to the company's investment in the Xbox gaming console, which has paid dividends.

    Is this a smart move? It could turn out to be a huge failure but that really doesn't matter. If you're Google, you don't want to see a cash-rich competitor gaining confidence and investing billions of dollars in taking you out.

  • Google is scrambling to improve its messaging. In my opinion, Google's Achilles heel is the fact that it often fails to market its product well to users. Even in search, the fact that Bing was praised for features that Google also has demonstrates that Google has largely been thriving from user habit and its brand.

    Bing has been a wake-up call and make no mistake about it: the fact that Google is now eager to remind users about all of its search features is acknowledgment that Google recognizes it has been complacent in this area.

  • Google is no longer the underdog. Google is a great company and has a wonderful brand. But it's the search market's 800-lb. gorilla. Naturally, it's hard for Google to please everyone and increasingly, its interests conflict with those of users, customers, regulators and other stakeholders.

    Few are still under the spell of the company's do no evil' mantra and most recognize that Google is a lot like any other multi-billion dollar multinational corporation. In its battle with Microsoft, that means that Google can't rely on the kind of built-in underdog support that it has received in the past.

All of these things highlight why Google should be concerned about Bing but Microsoft should be careful too: if it does too good a job, it may just awaken a sleeping giant. Google is still an innovative company with distinct advantages over Microsoft and Redmond should remember that.

Photo credit: betancourt via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 19 June, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2407 more posts from this author

Comments (12)

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Sankar

Bing has got positive response from the world in the earlier stage. Hope it gains more hearts in future.

Thanks

Sankar

over 7 years ago

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Matt

The comment about Google being user habit is the reason i don't see Google being knocked off its perch. Despite Google's best efforts to prevent it, people are increasingly substituting "search for it" to "Google it".

Working in the digital industry means we can sometimes get caught up in the detail, and not many users will make a conscious effort to switch for the sake of it. That will only happen if the quality of Google's results drops.

over 7 years ago

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pete

Got to agree with matt.  The inertia/habits formed after years of using google are going to be tough to break unless Bing radically changes the face of search.

Just because its new doesn't mean its better.

over 7 years ago

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Ged Carroll

Hi Patricia,

I disagree with your hypothesis for the following reasons:

  • Bing is decent. - So is Yahoo! and dare I say it Ask. However for most consumers they wont change to another product unless it is significantly better than their existing one
  • Bing still has momentum.  - but will the momentum out last the Crispin Porter Bugusky ad campaign
  • Microsoft is willing to invest. - The investment announcement wasn't that significant as it was a similar amount of money to what Microsoft has been piling into its loss-making online services division already
  • Google is scrambling to improve its messaging. - Google's products are usually put out there to be judged on their own merits and know how to properly capitalise on word of mouth - thats efficient marketing rather than the old school blitz approach other vendors take
  • Google is no longer the underdog. - Microsoft hasn't suffered in its PC OS and productivity dominance. At the end of the day people will use the product that works for them

over 7 years ago

David Iwanow

David Iwanow, SEO Product Manager at Marktplaats.nl

I agree Microsoft have done an amazing job with Bing, it is still a little annoying that outside the USA most of their international sites are still in "Beta" which is one annoying thing they have copied of Google.

You are correct when you said that Google has lost its underdog status, I think that has been the way for a number of years just it had no-one else to pass the underdog title, but now Bing can take that title.

The investment is something that shows Microsoft has really one last chance to get this right, as their Office and OS revenues and bundles of cash may decrease over the next 10 years as open source and new Google/Yahoo products gain userbase.

Was this the reason that Microsoft didnt buy Yahoo?

over 7 years ago

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Boobies

Crispin didn't work on the Bing ad campaign. It's JWT.

over 7 years ago

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Victoria Walmsley

Gotta agree with Matt. Google is to search what Coca-Cola is to Cola, what Hoover is to vacuum cleaners. We don't drink cola, we drink Coke. We don't vacuum, we Hooover (in the UK at least!). And we don't search - we Google. It will have to be something pretty amazing to overcome that mindset.

over 7 years ago

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Andy

I still use Google 95% of the time, by habit and because I need to for SERPS monitoring. But bearing in mind that was 99% 2 weeks ago, it represents a decent shift for me. Maybe it is the newness, but Bing just seems nicer to use.

over 7 years ago

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Logan

Victoria, you all Hoover over in the UK?  That's brilliant.  I've never heard that before.  I agree with the drinking Coke (or the general encompassing Pop) and Googling, but not with the Hoovering. 

I still use Google.  There's been nothing impressive to me with bing.  I've tried it a few times, but maybe I should switch to it for one day and get my reaction.

about 7 years ago

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Wilson Silva

Bing doesn't support commands like Google does. That's the first thing that Microsoft SHOULD really implement. In my opinion bing's logo and design suck.

about 7 years ago

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jay

the endless parade of nauseatingly annoying popups is microsoft at it's worst.

about 7 years ago

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Roger

Why I use bing instead of Google

I use bing more then I use Google because bing has colorful pictures and it's cool. On my desktop I have the bing desktop and it's real cool besides Google is bland and it's getting very old. Google's technology is still old technology. it's sort of like an old car why should you have an old car when you can get a new car. In other words Bing rules.

over 4 years ago

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