I’m Skeptical About the Future of Bing

It’s no secret that Bing, the Microsoft search engine that came about after “Windows Live” search (itself the successor to MSN search), hasn’t been carrying its weight for Microsoft.  Not only is the venture as part of Microsoft’s web services division not brining in profit, but Microsoft is actually forking out billions of dollars every year just to keep the struggling search engine above water.  Now, I must say that Microsoft has done a fairly good job in getting Bing off the ground, and the 14% market-share that the search engine has grasped isn’t something that we should be looking lightly at.

But in all honesty, what good is a 14% share of the search engine market if Microsoft isn’t able to tap into its user-base and generate a revenue?  I mean, it’s not like Microsoft – a profit-seeking company – is maintaining and investing in Bing just to do it.  They want to be a driving force in the online search arena and they want users to flock to their site just like users flock to Google today.  But for what it’s worth, even with the effort that Microsoft has quite obviously put into making Bing the best it can be, I really do think that it’s gotten to the point where the company is spinning its wheels with what everyone knows is a failed venture.

In the past I’ve discussed a few different ways that I personally thought could get Bing in a more competitive position to better its standing as a viable and competitive search engine.  While the concepts of improving Bing’s operating costs and name recognition were indeed important, every ounce of my being knows that Bing’s success has hinged from innovation from the get go, and despite a few small bursts of what has appeared to be creative features, Bing simply hasn’t done much to become an innovator in its field.

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Really, I think that the social integration in Bing was a genius idea.  Being able to incorporate social aspects from sites like Twitter to improve the search experience and the usefulness of results was a fantastic idea.  But really, for as much success as I’ve seen Bing have in creating new features and bettering its service, I must say now that Bing simply doesn’t roll out new features as much as we see with Google.

Admittedly I can’t speak for what happens behind the scenes with Bing, and for all I know Microsoft may very well be on the verge of releasing a series of new features that will ultimately lead to Google’s demise.  But from the perspective of an Internet user, Google has done a much better job in improving and innovating its user interface and improving result relevance; despite a few downfalls throughout the way.

So really, I feel the need to ask why Bing simply can’t innovate.  After all, Microsoft is already throwing billions of dollars down the drain to keep the project alive.  So why can’t they invest some of their wasteful money on actually innovating Bing and bringing the butt-kicking features that the search engine needs in order to trump Google?  Because for as much potential as Bing seems to have, the people in charge of making Bing a success simply seem incompetent to do so, as they haven’t show any ability to create a profitable and successful search engine.

So now that it’s becoming obvious that Bing is eating at Microsoft enough to get them to start looking at solutions to solve its black-hole financial status, the bigger question is how long Microsoft will hold onto Bing.  As Jeff pointed out in a post a couple of weeks back it’s speculated that Microsoft has entered into a deal with Twitter to have access to Twitter streams in order to utilize more social components into Bing; at an estimated price of $30 million per year.  With that, I think that it’s somewhat obvious that Microsoft isn’t ready to wipe its hands with Bing quite yet and that the company is still willing to invest into it.

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But will it work?  Better yet can anything work?  Given Bing’s track record I’m pretty skeptical, and seeing as how the company hasn’t been able to turn Bing into a revenue-generating machine after spending two years and billions of dollars, I think I have every right to be.

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Mike, I completely agree.  The problem these days is not just about search.  It’s about search + social + user experience.  Microsoft has been trying to catch up to Google for years now in the search industry while Google has continued to improve search and innovate in other areas such as social and overall experience with its services.  

While MS was the first on the scene with Twitter integration and does power Facebook’s search, it is still very far behind Google when it comes to bringing all of those things together into a cohesive and useful service.  

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