I spent some time this morning kicking the tires on Microsoft’s new search engine Bing, which launched early after Google’s strategic move to derail its announcement with Google’s announcement of Google Wave, and I have to say, I’m impressed. I, like Loíc Le Meur, did an ego search first with some pretty good results. I did not do a search for sex next, as Loíc did, but as anyone who has ever worked in any field related to search will tell you: porn / sex-friendly search = money. Especially if there is video involved. However, I don’t think this alone will be the reason Bing will be a success for Microsoft. The early buzz surrounding Bing is definitely promising though.
1. The contextual links provided for some searches add huge value—Look at the sidebar in the screenshot above or go directly to this Bing search for Nikon D70. Notice all those helpful links for related searches and sub-searches in the sidebar. It’s not as focused and curated as a Mahalo experience, but it is providing more options, context, and value than a regular Google search for the same term.
2. There’s tons of room to grow—Google owns search right now. Microsoft has plenty of room to grow if they can only offer something that has some minimal value-add beyond what Google offers. Bing already does that. As soon as some search consumers see and experience the contextual sidebar searches in a Bing search, they will see how some searches can save them time on Bing, they will start using it for some of their searches, then defect back over to Google whenever a search fails on Bing.
3. Windows 7 and all those new machines running Microsoft software—I doubt it will be long before Bing is the default search engine in Internet Explorer on Microsoft 7. It won’t be long before new machines purchased with Microsoft operating systems will default to Internet Explorer and Bing as the search engine. That will add a multitude of users to this search engine, simply because, I think, a decent percentage of those consumers will think it’s good enough not to bother changing the default settings.
If I were Microsoft, I would try to strike a deal with Mozilla to get Bing to replace Google in that search box on all Firefox installations. Leverage the threat that Google Chrome poses to Firefox. Internet Explorer isn’t a threat at all.
Update: I just set Bing to be my default search engine in Safari. This should prove to be an interesting experiment.