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Is Bing the sound of search? (Part IV)

Posted in Internet and Search by Manas Ganguly on June 13, 2009

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Do we need another search Engine?

I have to wonder whether users are really crying out for a new search engine.

The only real answer for that question would be to provide a search engine that would actually be worthy of using instead of Google — one that would be so compelling that we’d want to change our habits to use it.Bing isn’t that search engine. It’s just another nice Web site. If it wasn’t Microsoft that was launching it, you’d probably never even hear of it. Not because it doesn’t have good ideas. It’s just not earth shattering — and that’s what it would take for most people to break their Google habits.Although Microsoft is positioning Bing as a decision engine, it actually plays like a bunch of individual applications, each with interfaces that are together and sometimes look and feel similar.

Will $ 80 Million buy Microsoft Traction?
Microsoft will spend $80 million to get us to try its new search engine, to be called “Bing.” Could that possibly work? (Well, at least it’s not caught in the confusing branding world of “Windows Live” . . .)
Consider.
We all used to use Yahoo or AltaVista until we switched to Google. We stayed with Google because it was better.
Now Google is more than just habit. Google has our IDs, customizes our searches, searches our desktops and our email and delivers neatly integrated Maps, reviews, and video searches. It works. There is every reason to stay and no reason to leave.
But $80 million buys enough impressions to get people to try something new.
For this to make the slightest dent, here’s what has to happen.
First, the search has to be better.
Second, the search has to be qualitatively different. Not just better search, but “holy cow this is different.” Like it was when you first tried an iPhone, or first saw TiVo. This could be a better way to organize different media. It could mean connecting with social applications. It could mean searches that get better at understanding meaning so we all don’t have to think in Boolean logic. Frankly, if I can imagine it, it’s not different enough. So it has to blow all of us away.
Third, it has to integrate with everything else, better than Google does.
And finally, it has to work equally well on all browsers, all devices, and all PCs, even Apples and Linux machines.
Thus from what it looks like, Bing will bring in some new features to the game and the search ineterface but even with its $80-100 million moneys on advertising, it will be far before it does something radically different to outmode Google totally. That too at a period of time, when Google itself is innovating so furiously all over. Unless Bing has more to it than we have seen till now, it is destined to the same fate as .NET, Zune and Vista…..

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Is Search the sound of search? (Part III)

Posted in Internet and Search by Manas Ganguly on June 13, 2009

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Taking on Google

Talking to the Journal, Mr Ballmer conceded that the new name and new look would not be enough to immediately tip the scales: “To make our 8% grow significantly we don’t have to capture the imagination of everybody, but we have to capture the imagination of some. We have to grow our brand equity.” It will take years to chase down Google, Mr Ballmer told the paper.

Steve Ballmer also acknowledges: “There is no way to change the whole game in one step.” But search “deserves a good feature war.” And Bing will be rolling out new features as it goes forward. But is it enough to get people to switch? Bing is certainly not a game-changer, but it does cut out a lot of the back and forth that happens with so many searches today. If Bing can help people find what they are looking for faster, it will put pressure on Google to keep advancing the ball as well.

Microsoft’s research suggests that up to 60 per cent of queries are not answered by current search engines, and that 50 per cent of all searches are in fact repeats of previous questions. Bing aims to be better at working out what users are really looking for. A search for the website Facebook, for example, would display just one result linking to the site itself, but give users the option of displaying further results about the site.

After a botched up attempt to acquire Yahoo, Bing, it appears to be taking no chances. Ad Age reported the company plans to spend as much as $100 million advertising the search engine.

 

Mike Nichols, a general manager in the Microsoft search group, said the company isn’t banking on beating Google but does want to transform its also-ran search image.’We want to capture a unique position in consumers’ minds. They need to know why is it that they should use this product.As opposed to saying, we’re a new search engine, we do everything a little bit better than the other guys.’

Matt Rosoff, an analyst for the independent research group Directions on Microsoft, said he thinks Microsoft’s search results are usually on a par with Google’s and combined with the extensive ad campaign, Microsoft has a chance to increase its share.

In the final part of this post, we would analyze on the Search Market and Google Dominance and whether or not will Bing be able to buy in some Traction.

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Is Bing the sound of search? (Part II)

Posted in Internet and Search by Manas Ganguly on June 13, 2009

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The Differentiators

Even though Bing is differentiated than Google in some ways, by Ballmer’s own confession, Bing is no Google killer and Microsoft isn’t positioning it that way.

The differentiators by Bing offers several new features intended to help people perform faster, better searches with less poking around on Web pages they find through the search engine.

These include:

A set of navigation and search tools called an Explore Pane which includes a feature called Web Groups. These organize search results in the pane and in the results.

Related Searches and Quick Tabs features that provide a sort of table of contents for search results.

Best Match highlights the engine’s top pick and Deep Links shows off more of the resources on a Web site in the results.

Quick Preview offers a preview of search results during a mouseover so people can decide if they want to leave the search page and click on a link.

On the surface, Bing has a distinct gloss. The home page features a rotation of stunning photography, for instance, which can be clicked on to produce related image search results. But the most significant changes are under the covers. “We have taken the algorithmic programming up an order of magnitude,” says Microsoft senior vice president Yusuf Mehdi. Each search result page is customized according to what type of search you do (health, travel, shopping, news, sports). The algorithms determine not only the order of results on the page, but the layout of the page itself, concluding what sections appear. These sections can include anything from guided refinements and a list of related searches in the left-hand pane to images, videos, and local results.

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“I’ve been playing around with a preview version of Bing for about a week. It is designed to be “more of a decision engine,” says Mehdi. Bing helps people make decisions through guided search and a focus on task completion. In a time when a new Website is created every 4.5 seconds, information overload is becoming a real problem. ” People are getting hundreds of thousands of links but not getting what they want,” says Mehdi. Bing tries to alleviate problem by offering up different experiences depending on the search. It also acts more like a destination site for certain searches. Travel and product searches bring in comparison pricing, reviews, images, and more. Hulu videos can be played within the video search results. Bing pulls in data from other Web services when it can so that you often don’t have to leave to get the information you want.

Refer for all blow by blow details: http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/05/28/bing-microsoft-prepares-for-war-with-a-revamped-search-engine-screenshots/

Bing features a full-screen picture on its home page that will be updated daily – rather like Google’s regular logo changes.

Bing also lists related search terms on the left, not at the bottom of the page like Google does.

Once results have been displayed, a column on the left hand side suggests further related searches.

Bing also keeps a record of recent searches even if the user isn’t signed in to a Windows Live account, and allows people to e-mail links from that search history or post them on Facebook.

For some types of queries, Microsoft is positioning Bing as a destination rather than a quick gateway to other sites.

Shopping with Bing, for example, is a bit like shopping on Amazon, with ways to narrow results by price, brand and the availability of free shipping, without leaving the search page.

Head to head comparison of results: http://searchengineland.com/microsofts-bing-vs-google-head-to-head-search-results-20006

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Is Bing the sound of search? (Part I)

Posted in Internet and Search by Manas Ganguly on June 13, 2009

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Microsoft’s search solution has meandered a long course with no definitive direction. From MSN search to Live Search, Microsoft’s efforts have preliminarily been non starters of sorts. With Bing a.k.a Kumo (in its developmental days), Microsoft is trying its best to arrive at its best Search Solution till date. Launched formally on June 3rd, 2009, Bing is Microsoft’s latest attempt to step into the search domain where they have been minnows for a while now. Google rules the search kingdom with a 64.2% market share followed by Yahoo at 20.4% and Microsoft owns a miniscule 8.2% market share. Google’s search dominance translates in $4.7 billion revenue where as Microsoft’s attempts have seen it incurring losses in the online ad business. To mount a credible challenge to Google, Microsoft tried taking over Yahoo last year. But after Yahoo rebuffed its $47.5 billion offer, Microsoft turned its attention to improving its own Live Search.

Bing helps people make decisions through guided search and a focus on task completion. In a time when a new Website is created every 4.5 seconds, information overload is becoming a real problem. People are getting hundreds of thousands of links but not getting what they want. Bing tries to alleviate problem by offering up different experiences depending on the search. It also acts more like a destination site for certain searches. Bing pulls in data from other Web services when it can so that you often don’t have to leave to get the information you want.

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Bing’s search result page is customized according to what type of search you do (health, travel, shopping, news, sports). The algorithms determine not only the order of results on the page, but the layout of the page itself, concluding what sections appear. Microsoft is positioning it to be “more of a decision engine”.

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