A year after Microsoft launched Bing, the product has returned some credibility to Microsoft in the search market, and appears to have prompted renewed innovation at Google. Microsoft took the wraps off the Bing search engine on May 28, 2009, letting it finally replace the far-from-beloved Microsoft Live Search
Bing was seen as the firing of a shot across the bow of Microsoft’s increasingly successful rival Google, which made its name – and most of its fortune – on the back its search engine. So far, analysts say, Microsoft has been able to stabilize its position in the all-important search business, and appears to have pushed Google engineers to boost the capabilities of its engine. “Bing had a good first year – not a breakout performance, but it has succeeded in returning Microsoft to credibility in the Web search arena. That’s a huge step forward,” said Hadley Reynolds, an analyst at IDC.
“The competition from Bing has certainly had an effect on Google’s pace of innovation,” he added. “Google has made more visible changes in the past six months than in the several preceding years.” Industry watchers have maintained that the pickup in online search development over the past six months could very well change the face of search all together. Both Microsoft and Google have integrated real-time search results into their respective engines, allowing users who query a topic to get results, including Twitter posts, that are only a few seconds old.
Bing had made strong gains in market share in the first months following its release, but by early this year had lost some momentum and saw its numbers start to hold steady or even slip. Enderle noted that people are simply accustomed to using Google for searches, and that they will need a strong reason to switch engines. “Bing has done reasonably well, given that Google is entrenched and customers are relatively satisfied,” Enderle said. “They did better than any of the other challengers and gave Google a wake-up call. However, Google is hardly weakened – Bing still needs to up their game.”
The Microsoft-Yahoo deal has since gained regulatory approval, and a joint engineering team was created to work on adapting Bing for the Yahoo site. Both companies have said they hope the Bing engine is added to the Yahoo site, at least the United States, by the end of this year. “The Microsoft and Yahoo partnership is almost certainly going to have an impact on Google and its strategy,” said Olds. “The battle will be different. The two companies are a threat to Google now because they have staying power. They’re not startups or dabblers. They’re in it for the long haul now — fully committed and willing to invest whatever it takes.