Microsoft impressed some folks in the blogosphere when it configured its Bing search engine to index Twitter tweets two weeks ago.
While Google and Yahoo weigh whether or not to index tweets, Microsoft moved to press its real-time search advantage with BingTweets, which fuses Bing search results and Twitter content.
Microsoft partnered with media publisher Federated Media and Twitter on the site, which culls trends from Twitter and filters them into categories such as "Popular Now," "People," "Places" and "Products." Bing Director Whitney Burk explained the rationale behind BingTweets in a blog post July 14.
"Many people share their thoughts on Twitter, and search engines don't currently do a great job of capturing that real-time content," Burk wrote. "We designed Bing to help you make faster, more informed decisions, and, since people often turn to real-time content to help them make decisions, BingTweets was a logical next step."
The site is quite the mashup of Bing and Twitter and there is a lot going on with this site in a short space.
For starters, the top left toolbar includes the Popular Now, People, Places and Products tabs. Directly underneath lies the Tweet stream from Twitter, and to the right of that is a pared down version of the Bing search engine.
Directly above Bing is a tweet toolbar to let users either post tweets to Twitter, or post them to some 45 content sites, including Facebook, Digg and StumbleUpon. Above the tweet toolbar at the top right is a search box to let users sift through Bing and Twitter for queries that aren't included among the hot topics.
In clicking the Popular Now this morning, the hot topic was last night's Major League Baseball All-Star game. Once that was clicked on, BingTweets began streaming all the current tweets on it in the tweet box, and the "All Star Game" popped up in the search bar in Bing to provide all of the latest news on the event.
Above that, the Tweet toolbar displayed the prompt: "Check out BingTweets about All Star Game http://bit.ly/rtiCt #bing," which users can elect to post to Twitter or to the other content partner sites by clicking on the Tweet This or Share This buttons.
The site is no huge leap for Microsoft, but it puts another feather in Bing's cap versus Google and Yahoo, which Microsoft is chasing in the search market. According to the new June 2009 results from comScore, Google grabbed 65 percent of the U.S. search market share, Yahoo nabbed 19.6 percent, while Microsoft's share was 8.4 percent, up a quarter of a percent from May, before Bing launched.
Many analysts attribute Microsoft's uptick to curiosity about Bing, and do not feel Bing will ultimately rip the search crown from Google. JP Morgan's Imran Khan surveyed 750 people and found that 98 percent of people won't switch to Bing. Those who do switch will leave AOL and Ask.com, not Google or Yahoo.
"Of our total survey population, 25.8 percent of our respondents claim that they use AOL search less than before the Bing launch and 24.0 percent of our respondents claimed that they used Ask search less than before the Bing launch," Khan wrote. "Conversely, only 10.6 percent and 16.4 percent of the respondents claimed to use Google and Yahoo search less than before the Bing launch, respectively."
Ultimately, Khan found that most people are comfortable using Google and Yahoo, which means Microsoft would have to create a "markedly better product" and "significantly expand its distribution."
That's consistent with a June sampling from Web design firm Catalyst Group.