It's been a crazy week here in the Google world: Will the Internet giant win the FISMA battle against Microsoft? Maybe. Will Bing surpass Google search in 2012? Maybe.
Google-Microsoft FISMA Battle: 'He Started It!' 'No, He Did!'
The U.S. federal government is an especially lucrative market for IT vendors, with a total IT budget of some US$ 78.5 billion this year alone. Naturally, selecting vendors is kind of a gigantic deal, which is why a 72-page bill creating the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), delineating how agencies were supposed to procure IT hardware and software, was passed in 2002.
Fast forward to last fall when Google stirred the pot by filing suit over a particular bid process in the Department of the Interior, claiming it was unfair because it required any bidder to be compliant with Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite. As part of its complaint, it claimed that its product, Google Apps for Government, was FISMA-certified, and Microsoft's was not.
The war raged on into this week, with the two companies battling over who's actually authorized to sell to the U.S. federal government, and which one was lying about the other. Who will ultimately win? Check the back and forth here.
Could Microsoft Overtake Google in Search?
Here's a red flag: According to the latest data from Experian Hitwise, Google was responsible for 64.42% of searches in the U.S. in March, 2011. Meanwhile, Bing accounted for 30% of U.S. searches.
The 30% mark is a significant one. While Google still has a 2-to-1 edge, this is a rise from a 3-to-1 ration last fall. If Bing keeps up this pace, it would surpass Google in 2012. Whether or not that actually happens remains to be seen, but it's clear that Bing means business and a significant number of people are taking it seriously.
Google Panda Update Rolls Out in the UK; Gainers, Losers Identified
Earlier this year, Google changed up the game by introducing new search algorithms that aim to filter out content spam and low-quality sites. Initially rolled out in the US, the algorithm update is now gradually being rolled out to Google data centers in the rest of the world, and search analysts are reporting how the new algorithm affects sites depending on type and content.
Dubbed "Panda," the algorithm update has impacted certain sites so heavily that webmasters are driven out of business. Also called the "Farmer" update (as the algorithm change targeted content farms and low-quality sites), the Google update initially rolled out in US data centers last March, where the brunt of the impact was felt.
This week, Google's UK data centers are already running the Panda update, and search analysts have posted their findings.
Google Upgrades Places
Google has added Local Product Availability on Google Place Pages, which brings offline catalogs to the web and lets customers have a look at products before they have any contact with the business.
A new section called "Popular products available at this store" enables businesses to list up to five popular products, as well as their pricing and availability. Customers can also search by specific items to see if something in particular is in stock nearby.
To display local product availability on your Google Place page, users first share local availability data with Google through a Merchant Center account and then set up a Google Place page, if there isn’t one already.