On Aug. 10 I posted a piece on eWEEK in which I explored the one scenario I could think of that would enable Microsoft Bing to overtake Google in search.
Many readers, clearly pro-Google in nature, commented angrily on my opinion piece, "How Microsoft Bing Could Overtake Google in Search." Many readers said I was getting paid to write the report by Microsoft. Here's one of the many similar comments from anonymous readers:
"The article is purely a Microsoft PR. The writer keeps on portraying Google as data hungry and Microsoft's aggressive efforts in search as "cool". He even suggested the defection of consumers from google to microsoft. Most of us consumers do not think Google is greedy."
I'm sure these people aren't regular Google Watch readers, so they likely had no idea that the piece had been written by the same guy who has been writing on Google Watch that Bing won't beat Google in search. I believed that after testing Bing when it came out in June, and I believe it today.
However, I criticize Google, too, especially around its privacy practices. Google makes a lot of people nervous, enough so that The Onion is poking fun at it.
And if I had to distill the article down to a synopsis it would be this: Google's data collection from Web searches and the increasing glut of consumer and business data it hosts on its servers have made people wary. To expand its purview on the Web, Google has also branched into other computing markets with Android, Chrome and Chrome OS.
These factors, and some business moves to stifle competition, such as Google's bid to partner with Yahoo in search ads to block Microsoft, have made the DOJ and other regulators sit up and take notice.
Ironically, the DOJ and other groups are wary about Google's growth on the Internet at the expense of Microsoft partly because of the anticompetitive position Microsoft imposed on businesses in the 1990s. If Microsoft opened the door as a software power then, Google is threatening to inch in today.
If these groups sue Google enough, or Google has some serious privacy missteps, Google will lose its luster. The company will become uncool and maybe, depending on unforeseen intangibles, it will be seen as evil. Google users the world over could revolt.
Remember, Microsoft was not so reviled, so repugnant to people until it was found by the DOJ to be a monopolist. Then it became the object of greedy corporate America; uncool and disgraced. The very mention of Microsoft left a sour taste in peoples' mouths.
If people grow disenchanted with Google, who is to say that people won't flock to Bing for succor? The speed and accuracy have proven Bing a worthy successor. The switch from Google to Bing could happen in three years or in 10 years.
It probably won't happen at all, but it could. Part of my job is to consider all of the possibilities, however disturbing or unlikely they may be to readers.
But I am surely no Microsoft shill. In fact, I used to think that Microsoft's Internet presence was lame and boring. Bing has shown me something, even as it strains toward double-digit market share.