Feeds

Can Bing ride IE and WinPho to Google triumph?

Microsoft's mobile hope

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Next month marks the two-year anniversary of Microsoft's assault on Fortress Google.

Two years ago, after pouring billions of dollars into a new search engine and advertising platform, Microsoft took Bing to market.

In two years, Bing has gone from an eight per cent market share - courtesy of predecessor, Microsoft Live Search - to 13 per cent, according to comScore. Microsoft is averaging approximately two-and-a-half percentage points growth a year, and yet Google's share has barely moved. There has been a fluctuation of a few percentage points here or there, but according to comScore, Mountain View's share remains around 65 per cent.

This must be frustrating for Microsoft.

Every few months, Microsoft provides status updates that preview a new batch of carefully considered Bing features. The company has closely analyzed people's search behavior to determine what would best differentiate the Bing experience from Google. But all that hard work for a mere two percentage points a year seems cruel. At this rate, it will take roughly another 20 years to match Google.

Why is the going so hard? Stefan Weitz, director of Bing, told the The Huffington Post that the web surfing public has had its expectations shaped by a decade of second best from Google. They now expect second best, he says.

"Getting people to break out of expecting to see ten links after a query is challenging," he told HuffPo. "In fact, when we do give them a new experience... we see abandonment rates. We see people walking away because they don't know how to process anything besides those ten blue links."

He might have a point. Big technology companies can and do shape our expectations for particular pieces of technology. Microsoft made it impossible for others to crack the Office franchise because it successfully set the tone for how to do document processing, spreadsheets, and presentations on the desktop.

But there are two factors that could help Microsoft's hard-working Bing team in the future.

One is Internet Explorer. Though IE has been losing market share, the browser is good business for Bing. Analysis by comScore shows that Microsoft sites get a higher share of searches from IE compared to Chrome and Firefox, while Google gets it's lowest percentage of searches from the Microsoft browser.

Microsoft has always held that without IE, its search engine would be a lost cause. Now you have the proof.

"Do not overlook the influence the browser has on your search behavior. Browser choice and search engine usage are interrelated, so it's little surprise these companies are racing to improve their browsers in the hopes of gaining market share," comScore's Eli Goodman says.

But, as said, IE is losing market share on the desktop. And this is where mobile comes into play for Bing. No one has yet achieved a serious lead in mobile search. In the mobile market, Bing may finally be able to challenge Google. Microsoft plans to offer a full-fledged version of IE - not a limited version of IE - on Windows Mobile later this year.

Of course, Microsoft comes to the mobile market as green as anybody else. And Windows Phone 7 is essentially at zero market share. But there is hope for Redmond. Much will depend on how Google and Mozilla decide to challenge IE with Chrome and Firefox on mobile and how the mobile OS market pans out. But if Bing is ever going to truly challenge Google, it will have to be on handsets. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Premier League wants to PURGE ALL FOOTIE GIFs from social media
Not paying Murdoch? You're gonna get a right LEGALLING - thanks to automated software
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Ballmer quits Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Online tat bazaar eBay coughs to YET ANOTHER outage
Web-based flea market struck dumb by size and scale of fail
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.