NEWS ANALYSIS: On Dec. 2, Microsoft introduced new features for Bing that included an updated beta version of Bing Maps, and Visual Search integrated with Facebook and Twitter feeds. With a massive marketing campaign over the summer, and an ever-increasing number of new features, Bing's share of the U.S. search engine market has climbed to 9.6 percent, still lagging far behind Google's 70.6 percent. However, certain factors could allow Bing to increase its share at Google's expense over the long term.
Microsoft's Bing search engine currently occupies roughly 9.6 percent of the
U.S. search engine
market, according to a November research note from Experian Hitwise, while
Google occupies 70.6 percent of that market. That might seem an insurmountable
lead for Microsoft to overcome, but the executives up at Redmond
seem committed to Bing as a long-term project-and if you give something enough
of a time frame, the unexpected can occasionally happen.
With that in mind, here are four ways that Bing-which released a new round
and added features on Dec. 2-could eventually match or even surpass
Google's market share.
1. Google develops issues
Some of Microsoft's recent television ads have suggested that
"search"-by which is meant, implicitly, Google-offers disorganized
search results. But Google's continued popularity, despite any number of
challengers that have sprung up over the years, suggests that many users are
perfectly happy relying on the search engine giant for their daily tasks. And
decades of consumer research shows that if a product's not broken the majority
of people are reluctant to switch to a new one offering similar functionality.
But failure happens. Despite the multiple redundancies doubtlessly in place,
a handful of Google's offerings-notably Gmail
and Google News
-experienced hours of downtime at certain points over the
summer of 2009. While Google has thus far managed to protect its search engine
from similar failures, it's not outside the realm of possibility that the
servers managing that core application could experience a system error that
forced it offline.
Should that failure scenario occur repeatedly, then Bing would potentially
see its market share increase as people seek out a more reliable alternative.
2. Bing creates an alternative ecosystem
Since launching Bing in June, Microsoft has added several new features to
the search engine designed to bring it up to competitive speed. In addition to
a massively expanded video page-designed to appeal to consumers with a mix of
content from Hulu, MSN Video, ABC
and other outlets-Bing now offers search results from Wolfram Alpha, the
computational engine that offers definitive, often numerical, answers.
latest additions on Dec. 2,
which include updated maps and visual search
that integrates Facebook and Twitter feeds, suggest that Microsoft's overall
search engine strategy revolves around granularity: offering users a
combination of localized, relevant results and task-specific search options.
This is in contrast to Google, which for years has operated on the principle of
offering users a one-stop, stripped-down search page-although over the past few
months, it too has begun including more tabs on Google.com such as,
Back in May, Danny Sullivan of Search
suggested that Bing could succeed as the Avis to Google's Hertz,
becoming similar enough in functionality to attract users who need a quick
alternative. The more new features that Bing adds, the more likely it is to
become the alternative in people's minds-and if that happens, then its market share
will increase to the point where it represents more of a realistic threat to
3. The Microsoft-Yahoo deal creates momentum
On July 29, Microsoft
and Yahoo announced an online partnership
that would see Bing powering
search on Yahoo's sites while Yahoo handles worldwide sales duties for both
companies' search advertisers. That deal is currently on track to close in
Once that happens, if Yahoo's search engine market share ports over to Bing
with no attrition, then Bing's share of the market will rise to 26.7 percent, at
least based on Experian Hitwise's numbers. That represents less than half of Google's
current market share, but it could nonetheless increase Bing's mind share and
raise its profile as a viable alternative. If Microsoft follows that up with
another $80 million to $100 million marketing campaign, along the lines of the
one that accompanied Bing's summer launch, then Bing could see its search
engine market share rise above the 30 percent mark.
4. Bing's killer app
A decade ago, Yahoo was the dominant search engine. Then Google came along
with a page layout-and an underlying algorithm-that initiated a paradigm shift.
There's nothing, at least in theory, to prevent such a situation from happening
again: If Microsoft's engineers create a means of search that outdates the
current "screen of blue hyperlinks" model, then Bing's market share could
That's pure theory, however. In the meantime, Bing may have to content
itself with making incremental gains.