NEWS ANALYSIS: How could Bing vault past Google in the search engine race? In its quest for greater growth, Google is cultivating the perception of a greedy company hungry for users data to feed its search advertising machine. Scrutiny and legal skirmishes with federal regulators such as the DOJ and FTC could spark users to move to Bing.
In the last two months since the advent of
Bing, there has been a crush of coverage over the search engine that would
lead Microsoft, a search and Internet also-ran, to victory over search king
Google, whose 65 percent to 70 percent market share of searches leads the
The search pack is thinning because Yahoo has essentially
ceded its search share for cash from Microsoft, whose Bing will be
powering Yahoo's search on the back end for a decade if the
Microhoo deal gets the government's blessing.
But there is also a lot of speculation about whether Microsoft's Bing technology alone is enough to help Microsoft take the search crown
from Google. The answer is no and I will explain why later in this piece. So,
if Bing can't beat Google in innovation, how can Microsoft overtake Google in
I believe the mounting discomfort users have in Google
keeping their data for search and other Web services, coupled by negative media
surrounding encumbering scrutiny (and possible legal injunctions) from federal regulators could trigger a
massive defection of its search engine users to Bing, a scrappy underdog in
search with tremendous upside.
First, I'll explain why Bing's technology won't be enough
to help Microsoft vault Google in search, then circle back to why the growing perception of Google as a greedy company
could spur users to defect.
Many reporters, even this one, have written that
Microsoft's search product is vastly improved. Its results are similar to those
at Google, accurate and speedy. Overall, the user experience of Bing has been
comparable to that of Google, but not incredibly better. Certainly not enough
to make millions of users switch in the near term, because people have grown so
comfortable with Google. Some exhort us to try.
Microsoft is also pumping as much as $100 million in
marketing the new product, and in Yahoo, has a new ally to help it close the
gap from 9 percent or so in search to 30 percent. But if Microsoft is to lap
Google in search it won't be from any quantum leap in technological innovation.
So let's assume two great scenarios for Microsoft that
may or may not come to fruition. First, StatCounter continues to show us that Microsoft Bing continues to gain a
percentage point each month going forward and second, regulators approve its
deal with Yahoo in 2010.
Assuming those two qualifications are true by this time
next year, let's say Microsoft has 40 percent of the search market share,
accounting for organic growth, plus the combination of search traffic
cultivated by Bing through Yahoo.
Microsoft will still be roughly 20 percent behind Google.
Now, let's consider the brief history of search engines. Google is the only
company to storm ahead of search incumbents Yahoo, Microsoft, Ask.com,
AltaVista and others in the last decade. There is no evidence to suggest the
bulk of Google's users will flock to Bing wholesale.