Bada boom, bada bing!
That’s how quickly things seem to happen in the webverse anyway, the search engine avenue being no exception. Accordingly, recently there have been rumors backed by heavy advertising dollars that Microsoft (news, site) plans to release a search engine called "Bing."
As is inevitable whenever big names put out new solutions, "Bing" is already being compared to offerings from other big names. In fact, much like the ongoing Mac vs. PC battle, we’re seeing Microsoft's new offering propositioned as competition for the biggest name.
An Engine Formerly Known as Kumo
Whether or not Microsoft plans to acknowledge its obvious weakness in the Web search market has been a topic of interest for quite a while now, initially thanks to rumors about the existence of a search engine called "Kumo."
Supposedly having been internally testing their solution for some time, images of the Microsoft-powered engine (whatever its name is) were leaked earlier this year:
Unlike Google, the Kumo/Bing layout is composed of three columns, with search results in the middle, and sponsored related search terms on the right-hand side. The left column contains related searches and a single-session search history.
"If you grab the average user off the street and ask them, 'Does search suck?' I think they'd say no. They don't know what else can be done," said Shashi Seth, a former Google executive who is now chief revenue officer at Cooliris. "They think search does a pretty good job, and if you could prove otherwise with a product that's differentiated, people will sit up and take notice."
Though Seth’s point of view makes sense, will Kumo/Bing’s leaked differentials be enough to convince users to cut themselves a hearty piece of Microsoft pie?
The answer is "no." That is, the general consensus seems to be a big thumbs down for Microsoft, something we can’t blame Web users for, as Google has routinely beat out every company that has so much as imagined they could one day provide worthwhile competition. After all, it takes a certain kind of magic to outdo a name that a generation has practically grown up with.
"It's a marketing problem, really," said Kevin Lee, chairman of search marketing firm Did-It. "Google is synonymous with search."
Accordingly, instead of trying to move this mountain from the bleak functionality angle, it looks like Microsoft is taking a different route. That route, as reported by AdAge, is paved in an estimated US$ 80 to 100 million dollars for advertising. When you compare that to the amount Google spent last year—a measly US$ 25 million—you can bet Microsoft is planning something huge.
An advertising move comes as no surprise, in fact. The company is likely high off of the attention they gained after a recent campaign called Laptop Hunters, in which the average Joe with an average Joe cash flow is put on a pedestal and Macs are made out to be for those with bulging wallets only.
This time, however, word on e-street is that the planned ads won't go after companies like Google by name. Instead, Microsoft will reportedly focus on Seth's idea—that today's search engines don't work as well as consumers previously thought.
So, will this be bing as in bingo, or bing as in the cherry on top of a mountain of failed attempts to usurp The Big G? If you’re interested in finding out, head on over to the D: All Things Digital Conference this week where Microsoft CEO, Scott Ballmer, is expected to introduce the search engine.