Microsoft's Bing now includes deeply baked integration with Facebook. How that will affect the two companies' competition with Google remains to be seen.
Microsoft's Bing really likes Facebook.
Bing likes Facebook so much, in fact, that the search engine
now bakes the social network's "Like" button more deeply into its results.
"Decisions don't get made on rationality alone," Bing
director Stefan Weitz told eWEEK in an interview earlier in May. "People ask
other people for information. Eighty percent of the people making a purchase
online will delay that decision until they ask someone else."
In light of that, he said, Microsoft decided to evolve Bing
by "infusing the emotional into it." That means adding Facebook-fueled social
features, including the ability to see, in search results, which Websites your
friends "Liked." Those Websites will also find their way towards the top of
search results, instead of being buried three or four pages back. If your
friends have "Liked" a certain part of a Website, such as a recipe, that page will
surface along with the Website in search results.
When users search for a specific person, Bing will now
present Facebook information on the search-results page. If they're traveling
to a new city, such as Paris, Bing will tell you which Facebook friends lie
there. Bing will notify users of airfare deals for places they've liked on
Facebook, and let users post Bing Shopping pages on their Facebook wall ("Should
I buy this?").
Bing will also present companies' and brands' Facebook
postings, alerting users to deals. The Bing Bar will also include a universal "Like"
button, capable of tagging any Website-even those without Facebook buttons in
"Search becomes more human," Weitz said.
Bing holds 14.1 percent of the search-engine market,
according to recent data from comScore, trailing Yahoo at 15.9 percent and
Google at 65.4 percent. However, Yahoo's backend search is powered by Bing,
effectively giving its market share to Microsoft; added together, Redmond has a
little less than half the users of its Mountain View rival.
But Bing enjoyed query growth of 40.4 percent in April, more
than five times that of the overall market, trouncing Google's 6.5 percent.
That suggests Microsoft's omnipresent Bing ads, and possibly word-of-mouth, are
persuading people to give Bing a tryout.
"We don't have to beat anybody to take share," Weitz told
eWEEK during another meeting in March, suggesting that Bing remains perfectly
happy to exploit verticals such as travel, and leverage its partnerships with
companies such as Facebook.
At the time, he also suggested that the Web's social layer
has come to mimic the same sort of behaviors that people exhibit in the real
world. Facebook and Microsoft were already collaborating on Facebook Profile
Search, which leveraged a user's Facebook connections to deliver more relevant
results for people searches; they could also post messages to their Facebook
walls via Bing's pages.
Indeed, Microsoft seems determined to exploit its minority stake
in Facebook to the proverbial hilt. FUSE Labs, a company incubator founded by
now-departed Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie, has continued to work on
initiatives such as Docs.com, which allows Facebook users to create and share
Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents with .PDF support and full-text search.
Executives at both Microsoft and Facebook likely hope that
the partnership, and the resulting new features, will allow them to more effectively
tackle their biggest mutual enemy: Google.