Executives at Google may argue, of course, that the company's market-share
position is secure; after all, it currently owns 65 percent of the market in
the United States.
Once Microsoft consummates its search-and-advertising partnership with Yahoo in
2010, a deal that will see Bing become the underlying search engine for Yahoo's
sites, Bing's share of that market could rise to close to 30 percent-but even
that, when you come down to it, will likely not be enough to keep those
Googlers awake at night.
But Microsoft's recent aggressive moves in the space, including the addition
of the beta version of Bing Maps, emphasize that nothing in the search engine
realm is static. Add to that the perception from some corners of the tech world
that Google is becoming more Big Brother than Don't Be Evil-as exemplified by
Dotzler's comments-and Google's position seems, if not tenuous, certainly in
need of reinforcement. Hence the addition of a feature like real-time search
results, in order to make an already-considered-necessary tool for people seem even
Microsoft has also embraced the real-time religion when it comes to search.
Take Bing Maps, which marries the typically stolid business of online
cartography with real-time features such as a Twitter feed and traffic reports.
Typing "New York" into Microsoft's maps feature, for example, will
unleash a food of Tweets originating from, say, Bryant Park and every
surrounding bar and restaurant; zoom into the Brooklyn Bridge, and a colored
line denotes just how fouled its lanes are with rush-hour traffic.
These updates follow a whole slew of new features added to Bing in November,
including a more robust video page that integrated feeds from Hulu, MSN
Video and ABC. Wolfram Alpha, the
computational engine designed to offer primarily numerical solutions to queries
ranging from "What is 423,145 times 343?" to "What year did
James Dean kick the bucket?" now offers search results on Bing.
Despite those bells and whistles, the
greatest stride forward for Bing remains the Microsoft-Yahoo deal, which
the two companies finalized Dec. 4. Bing takes over back-end search for Yahoo's
sites and Yahoo's sales team will take over worldwide duties for both
companies' search advertising. If Yahoo's current share of the U.S.
search engine market ports over to Bing with no attrition, Microsoft will gain
about 26.7 percent of the market-at least according to market numbers produced
by Experian Hitwise in November.
"Yahoo and Microsoft welcome the broad support the deal has received
from key players in the advertising industry and remain hopeful that the
closing of the transaction can occur in early 2010," the companies said in
a joint statement released on Dec. 4. Microsoft CEO
Steve Ballmer, during a November trip to Tokyo,
previously dangled the possibility that the agreement could eventually expand
beyond the United States
to the global stage-all of that depending, of course, on whether the U.S.
Department of Justice clears the deal, something that neither Microsoft nor
Yahoo has seemed publicly concerned about.
The following week for Microsoft was one of warnings, acquisitions and
announcements of future plans.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.