Who needs (or wants) another search engine?
Microsoft’s quest for search excellence now has a name: Bing and, whether Ballmer and Co like it or not there are parallels drawn between Google and Bing. Ballmer has made an attempt to consciously avoid pitting Bing directly against the god of search, however, on a competitive aspect, the comparisons are inevitable and unavoidable. Two smart things, that Microsoft (MS) has done with Bing is:
Position itself as a decision engine (rather than a search engine) à Meaning it provides results rather than search query results.
Unlike MSN and Live Search, MS has committed $100 million to marketing the product.
But introducing Bing didn’t answer the most relevant question: Who needs (or wants) another 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, one would 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. Moreover, a lot of these features are reminiscent of other websites/platforms.
When you scroll over a result on Bing, it displays a shape to its right. Hover your cursor over that shape to see a preview of what’s on the page behind the link. It’s a lot like the images that ask.com and those look-ahead browsers that predated Internet Explorer and Firefox. The maps section has all the same capabilities as Google maps or Mapquest but feels faster and displays the info in a slightly different way. Breaking down the results according to category, is much like Vivismo’s Clusty search engine. But it doesn’t do as good a job of categorizing as Clusty. A lot of other browsing /navigation capabilities at Bing are very inspired from other websites (example: Kayak.com for travel links etc).
Thus with no definitive features or interface that define it to be radically different from the existing stuff available on the net, MS is merely putting together few different things together on the same website. With the fierce pace at which Google is innovating presently, MS needs to relook the paradigm. Presently MS is re-packaging stuff. But to out do Google, one would need to out innovate them. Looks like MS is not doing much of that.