Quick, what has been the No. 1 search query entered into Microsoft's search engine, Bing, in 2009?
If you guessed "swine flu" or "stock market," you'd be close. The biggest trending topic on Bing for the past 11 months, however, was Michael Jackson. According to Microsoft, the search engine's top 10 trending topics for 2009 mirrored many of the year's top news stories, with a healthy dose of celebrity mixed in:
1. Michael Jackson
3. Swine Flu
4. Stock Market
5. Farrah Fawcett
6. Patrick Swayze
7. Cash for Clunkers
8. Jon and Kate Gosselin
9. Billy Mays
10. Jaycee Dugard
"If you're curious how we determined the top searches, we analyzed billions of search queries and developed the list based on searches made with Bing," Danielle Tiedt, general manager of Bing, wrote in a Nov. 29 posting on the official Bing blog.
On Nov. 11, Microsoft announced new functionality for Bing, including a beefed-up video page and localized results for weather and events. In addition, Bing will start displaying search results from Wolfram Alpha, a computational engine designed to provide a definitive (and usually numerical) answer in response to a search query.
Originally created by Stephen Wolfram, founder and CEO of Wolfram Research, Wolfram Alpha can provide engineers, programmers and other numerically obsessed workers with the solutions to both simple math problems and complex equations; for the general public, the engine also offers useful information such as nutritional data and body-mass-index calculations.
Despite the extensive revisions, Microsoft has not publicly deemed the new-and-improved search engine "Bing 2.0," although that term has been unofficially banded about by Microsoft executives in discussions with eWEEK.
New features or not, however, Bing seems to be retaining its market share even after Microsoft's enormous marketing campaign for the search engine-tied to its June 3 release-has wound down. Statistics from HitWise showed Bing occupying 9.57 percent of the U.S. search engine market in October, while Google and Yahoo continued to hold 70.60 percent and 16.14 percent of the market, respectively.
Meanwhile, online-statistics-tracking firm Net Applications has placed Bing's current global market share at 3.49 percent, versus 84.53 percent for Google and 6.68 percent for Yahoo. But Microsoft's seemingly imminent search-and-advertising deal with Yahoo, which will see Bing powering search on the latter's sites, may rapidly change these overall percentages in 2010.