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Ballmer not so bullish on Bing

No more bets, gentlemen

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After the launch, the hype. But one individual is not buying into the idea that Bing is a done deal or that Google is scared. That person is the one with the most at stake: the normally tough-talking and excitable Steve Ballmer.

Microsoft's CEO is reported to have downplayed the immediate euphoria and creeping expectations around his company's search-engine challenger to Google.

Ballmer told a Fortune 500 audience that his company must be tenacious against Google and that Bing is a long-term commitment.

That might disappoint those, such as investors on Wall Street, who think Microsoft should focus on the core business of Windows and leave the internet to those with dominant market share.

"We have had some very good initial response [about Bing]," Ballmer said. "I don't want to over-set expectations. We are going to have to be tenacious and keep up the pace of innovation over a long period of time."

The AFP continued: "We may be successful, we may not, but we can't be successful without being committed to changing things, changing the approach, changing the business model and you can't give up in six months, or a year or two years."

Ballmer's comments follow countless media outfits tracking the minutia of daily and weekly search market share, hoping to call an early winner.

Less than a week after Bing's launch, breathless headlines reported Microsoft had knocked long-time number-two player Yahoo! into third place according to StatCounter. Bing had 16.28 per cent market share compared to Yahoo's 10.22 per cent and Google's 71.47 per cent.

By June 11, Bing had fallen back to familiar territory for Microsoft in number three.

Now, ComScore - who also reported an initial weekly increase - has delivered its stats for the whole of May. Microsoft actually lost share, falling 0.2 per cent to eight per cent, despite that bump in May with the launch of Bing, while third-placed Yahoo! fell 0.3 per cent to 20.1 per cent.

Guess who increased its market share by 0.8 per cent to claim 65 per cent of searches conducted in May?

Ballmer's got a lot riding on Bing: He's signed off on billions in additional R&D and M&A to build Bing and Microsoft's search platform and online properties, at a time when most mature organizations are just milking the franchise. That's something many investors would actually prefer to see. He recently topped that off with a $100m ad campaign for Bing at a time when most companies are cutting their marketing and advertising spend, especially in the IT sector.

And he's done all that while telling stockholders to grow a pair (so to speak) 'cos they'll be needing 'em in the battle against Google - even as executives leading the charge have jumped ship.

No wonder Ballmer's playing it humble and asking people to be patient.®

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