Microsoft Bing Is Using Facebook to Beat Google in Social

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-05-18 Print this article Print

It's a nice idea, ensconced in the accepted notion that there are no better people to trust than our friends. Except it fails to take into account the transient fluidity of peoples' lives, tastes and purchasing decisions, as well as the joy of searching and discovering information and new things on one's own.

And it blindly fails to take into account that most people don't want someone or everyone to know what they're looking to learn more about, let alone looking to buy. Privacy matters, albeit on different scales, for everyone at some stage online.

There is a tendency in tech for companies big and small to lend too much important to the social quotient. Facebook and its 600 million users are to blame for this, but what works for Facebook can't be applied to every part of the Web.

A teenager might ask their Facebook friends for tips on music they might like. A 30-something adult would likely not do the same.

Would the same thirty-something adult look for quaffable bottles of wine similar to ones he has relished in the past? Perhaps, but would this occur through Bing or Facebook? Probably not, when a text message or phone call might do.

One could argue that a teenager might be inclined to ask their friends on Facebook for music or movie suggestions, and that theoretically those could conversations can begin on Bing, but we'd argue back that such conversations begin on Facebook and end there.

In other words, the question was asked, answered and the friends moved on. To be fair, this Q&A session wouldn't fare any better on Google today, where Social Search tries to surface content from friends, but doesn't enable them to ask or field questions.

Try as Bing or Google might, social search just isn't native to the search experience. There seem to be too many hits and misses in Bing's bet on Facebook. This needs work for it to work. We're not sure Bing has properly accounted for the user scenarios.

Bing has been working with Microsoft for half a decade now, and for the last several months in serious search integration.

This has had little material effect on Bing, whose marketshare is respectfully at 14 percent has been inching up while Yahoo and others fall by the wayside to Google's 65 percent plot.




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