Bing will beat Google

Posted on 1st Jul 2009 at 11:47 by Clive Webster with 29 comments

Clive Webster
Alex wrote an interesting blog post about Bing, Microsoft's new search engine, last week. The gist of it was that Google is so successful that competing against it with a similar product isn't going to work - and as a result, his idea was that searching social sites such as Facebook and Twitter is probably the biggest threat to Google.

I feel that’s slightly missing the point. Bing, after all, is the default search engine for Internet Explorer, which is the default browser of the interweb, therefore as long as Bing just works and is good enough (in the same way that Google is now) no-one will see a need to switch. Far from Microsoft needing to up its game to beat the services of Google, it’s Google that needs to provide a compelling reason to switch the search engine of IE’s search bar from Bing to Google.

The problem is similar to that of Firefox vs IE. Most of us techies would agree that Firefox (or indeed, Chrome, Opera or any IE alternative) is superior to IE and so we switch. However, it was big news when the blatantly inferior IE dropped below 70 per cent market share.

Bing will beat Google

If we assume (and yes, this is a guess) that 20 per cent of those IE users are technically competent and are forced to use IE for various reasons (e.g. because their workplace won’t let them install additional software), that means that over 50 per cent of all internet users aren’t especially IT-literate to be bothered about changing their browser. In fact, as Google found when its operatives took to the streets of New York, most people don't know what a browser is (YouTube).

It's a pretty safe bet that these people will probably use IE at its default settings, so I’d guess that half the world will be using Bing fairly soon. I predict that Google is going to see a huge drop-off in search traffic flowing through its servers over the next six months.

Search might not be Google’s only source of income any more, but it makes a large contribution to the company’s bottom line, so a rapid and sever decline in search traffic would likely hit the company hard. And with less cash, it’ll have fewer resources and marketing muscle to develop and promote reasons to switch from the default web browser’s default search engine.

So, as long as Bing is roughly as good a search engine as Google, it’ll prevail. The onus is therefore not on Microsoft to give Bing better features than Google, but on Google to give compelling reasons to switch from Bing.

Bing will beat Google

The problem is entirely of Google's making, too. As it's always said (rather too smugly, I feel), it hasn't really developed its search much at all*. All Microsoft really has to do is roughly match that level of service.

However, Microsoft is being more ambitious, as you can see from comparing the missions of Bing and Google: "Bing helps you make sense of your search results by organising them into helpful categories. It also broadens your search by offering related search terms that increase your chances of finding just what you’re looking for." Bing sounds much more in keeping with the times than Google's mission "to organise the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

Of course, if Bing does prove to be sub-standard, tech enthusiasts like you and I will stick with Google, and its strong name and awareness will give Google a period of grace to fight back at Bing over the next couple of years.

However, I still maintain that because Bing is the default search engine of the default browser, it only has to be adequate to beat Google – it’s Google that needs to up its game to provide a compelling reason to switch from Bing (or else, diversify its revenue sources). And if Google does suffer a sharp and deep hit to its profit due to Bing, we could see it shrink very rapidly as it refocuses on its core search business and technology. This would be bad.

And if you fancy the chance of winning an Xbox 360 Elite, then please fill out this survey about search.
*Instead of developing its core business, and the reason why Google became a house-hold name, the company has spent time developing all kinds of things, from trivial irrelevancies to useful online applications to amazing uses of information and technology.


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oasked 1st July 2009, 11:56 Quote
The one problem with your assumption is that a very large number of people at work are still stuck using IE6 - and therefore there is no default search engine (well at least in the way that we've become used to).

That means that they're probably going to use Google, because that's what everyone else does.
smc8788 1st July 2009, 12:03 Quote

IE's default search engine before this was Live Search or some other Microsoft variant, so if we follow your logic then that should have beaten Google by now.

I don't see how this will be any different. I know many people that aren't computer literate at all (well, at least not enough to change from IE), but they still use Google as their default search engine as second nature, just because it has become such a big household name now. Regular Internet users are using Google shopping, Google maps, Google mail, Youtube and a whole host of Google-related services, so it's no surprise that Google search has become their natural search engine.
RTT 1st July 2009, 12:23 Quote
The other flaw in your logic is that a lot of numpties don't use the search bar. My parent's can't wrap their silly old brains around the concept of a search bar. They just type in and search from there.
steveo_mcg 1st July 2009, 12:23 Quote
Though if Google did find IE defaulting to Bing to be a severe loss of revenue you can bet there would be an almighty law suite in the US and more anti competitive complaints to the EU.

And people where wondering what the problem with IE's bundling was...
capnPedro 1st July 2009, 12:27 Quote
Originally Posted by RTT
The other flaw in your logic is that a lot of numpties don't use the search bar. My parent's can't wrap their silly old brains around the concept of a search bar. They just type in and search from there.

My mum can't even grasp that; she types fully, correct URLs into the Google search box on her homepage (which is Google).
Tim S 1st July 2009, 12:30 Quote
I can't see Microsoft getting search so right that people flock in their millions away from Google. :)
UncertainGod 1st July 2009, 12:30 Quote
Wow, that was a mighty dose of flawed logic right there.
Sifter3000 1st July 2009, 12:36 Quote
Originally Posted by UncertainGod
Wow, that was a mighty dose of flawed logic right there.

I did think that when editing it, but blogs are for personal opinion, so on Clive's head be it!
CardJoe 1st July 2009, 15:37 Quote
You also ignore all the computer illiterate people using AOL - both my youngrt sisters and my mum just use the AOL browser, which comes with some silly god-awful search system. When it doesn't work for them they go straight to Google.

Why? Well, because they are mainly using the internet for shopping or for finding things or for email - and Google puts Google Maps, Google Shopping and Google Mail all very plainly and easily in front of them without needing to sign up for anything.

Google became the default search engine of the internet the moment the word was nominalised and entered into the dictionary. Even my Dad no longer thinks about it as "searching for something". Instead, he just "googles it"
notatoad 1st July 2009, 17:10 Quote
wait, so bings greatest advantage is that it is the default on all IEs? why did they need to rebrand from live search then? and why did they need to rebrand live search from msn?

also, you underestimate the stupid: i know a lot of people who will search for google in bing and then search with google/
thehippoz 1st July 2009, 17:19 Quote
what impresses the hell out of me is they are using the people in the botnet to do their bidding.. it's millions of puppets doing free labor everytime they pull up facebook and type in a captcha- they are fixing a book =]

if they can find more uses for these idiots like hackers have.. you have your free zombie workforce.. imagine how many peeps use their computers for porn- if you could somehow harness the energy of just the right hand.. energy crysis solved :D

I'm not sure if bing will take off, windows live didn't.. they been advertising on tv.. google's pretty much stomped even yahoo into the ground
Elton 1st July 2009, 21:09 Quote
I don't think bing will win, it's still slow when just searching the internet.
yodasarmpit 1st July 2009, 21:18 Quote
Originally Posted by notatoad

also, you underestimate the stupid: i know a lot of people who will search for google in bing and then search with google/
I actually witnessed someone use "Ask Jeeves" to search for google then search for their term.
The_Beast 1st July 2009, 23:43 Quote
google is just so easy to use, shopping, stats, stocks, images..... all in one place

bing has no shot
cyrilthefish 2nd July 2009, 00:21 Quote
Originally Posted by yodasarmpit
I actually witnessed someone use "Ask Jeeves" to search for google then search for their term.

On a similar note: i far too often see people put URLs into a search engine box, search for it then click the search link result pointing to the URL they just entered...

And you get treated with blank/confused stares if you try to explain thats what the URL box is for

very frustrating!
dark_avenger 2nd July 2009, 00:24 Quote
all hail lord Google!
VipersGratitude 2nd July 2009, 04:40 Quote
This isn't a fanboy thing, it's a culture thing.
Google will win's why:
SteveU 3rd July 2009, 10:29 Quote
This blog IMHO is utter rubbish, I reckon the vast majority of people in the world have their homepage set to Google and will continue to.

I've taken one look at Bing at hated it immediately.

I'm sorry but search engines is one thing that Microsoft just don't do well!!
SteveU 3rd July 2009, 10:32 Quote
Furthermore, 'to Google' is now a verb!!!

Which other search engine can claim that!?!?!?

Plus 'to Bing' just sounds wrong!

[Rant over]
xaser04 3rd July 2009, 11:56 Quote
Bing may be the default search option in IE but I would hasten to guess that a large proportion of the general population have Google as their home page and hence will completely ignore the search bar (if they even realise its there).

The problem I see Bing having (in terms of gaining a large share of the market) is for the general populance what does it do that Google doesn't? and/or what does it do better than Google already does well enough?
yodasarmpit 3rd July 2009, 13:07 Quote
Originally Posted by VipersGratitude
This isn't a fanboy thing, it's a culture thing.
Google will win's why:
Cupboard 3rd July 2009, 19:04 Quote
I can see where the blog post is coming from, but I would just like to add another reason for why I disagree.

The Google toolbar. For some reason, my mum has the Google toolbar. I don't know why, I don't know where it came from. All that I know is that she uses the search in it and nothing else, despite having a search box in the top right that doesn't remove a chunk of viewing space.

This is the same mother that has somehow managed to completely un-secure our wireless network since I have been away, despite claiming not to have touched anything. And now she isn't letting me re-secure it for no apparent reason! (she has gone out for a bit though, so I may have a chance)
MrWillyWonka 3rd July 2009, 19:22 Quote
It's funny that I had to Google "Bing" in order to find the Bing webpage

Edit: Who the hell came up with the name Bing anyway? "Bing it" sounds wrong and takes extra effort than "Google it".
smajer 5th July 2009, 18:21 Quote
google is the best, doubt bing will out due it
Byron C 14th July 2009, 10:27 Quote
Ahem, not to be a pedant, but: "a rapid and sever decline"...

Who's cutting what now? ;)

And I agree with others here; simply because Bing will be a default search engine doesn't mean it'll beat google. Google is now so ingrained into the consciousness of web users that it isn't going anywhere for a while. Even if Bing, or other search engines, offer better or more innovative features, people will still stick to google because they know and trust it. Then of course eventually google will also develop the same (not quite so) innovative features and google users will be happier.

This isn't just an internet "thing"; you see it all over the place. People know what they like, will stick to it and be reluctant or even fearful towards change. Especially when it comes to technology. This is perhaps pitched at the wrong audience here, but many people tend to get stuck in their ways when it comes to technology changes. We introduced a new software platform around three years ago in work (around 400-600 users, all told) - it was a massive change in the way that we work from day to day. There are still those present who refuse to learn it and use it properly, simply because it's "new" and they don't like it.
crazyceo 15th July 2009, 17:08 Quote
This is hilarious. All the Google fan girls trying to cling on to any hope they have left.

The best is yet to come when Windows7 is released, especially in Europe where you need to install a browser yourself. Microsoft won't need to update or patch or secure against any problems associated with bugs and glitches cause by Google. So when the browser lets fly with virus and bots galour, "Who ya gonna call?" that's right...IE8 and Bing in all it's glory.

The reason Microsoft changed the name from Live Search to Bing was it actually purchased the company Bing that constructs and calculates the search differently and more competently than Google. This is why Clive's comment is NOT flawed. Your eyes are too Googled to see that!
steveo_mcg 16th July 2009, 08:53 Quote
steve balmer that you?.

Quick lesson in economics, you know why every one (99%) in the world uses ykk zips? To compete you either have to be cheaper or significantly better. No one can makes zips on the scale of zkk cheaper and its hard to be better/innovative in such a simple and well refined product.

Since both browsers and search engines are free at the point of use that only leaves innovation, which normal users have shown by there continued use of IE6, matters little to them. I suspect the only hits bing is likely to get by being the default search engine is when you type in a url wrong, or expect it to work like competing browsers, and it brings up a search page with a did you mean X.

It doesn't matter if its more competent its probably just closer to googles algorithm but as IE, McDonalds, Coke and a multitude of other brands have well illustrated familiarity and brand mean more than innovation or competence.

Oh and security holes LOL, honestly 99% of the security problems in Windows come from IE, seriously rofl. :)
Fod 16th July 2009, 09:00 Quote
erm - it might help to look at the guy's username. it has a faint whiff of troll.
Originally Posted by crazyceo
steveo_mcg 16th July 2009, 09:05 Quote
Yeah your probably right but i was bored... :)
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