Over the weekend we revealed that News Corp and Microsoft were in talks to “de-index” News Corp’s content from Google, in favour of Microsoft’s Bing search engine.
By today it was clear that this is part of a broader move by Microsoft to boost Bing by getting publishers to cut their sites off from Google.
It’s hard to know how much to read into the gains that Bing has notched up in its first eight weeks, but one thing’s for sure: if it hadn’t shown these early signs of life Microsoft would currently be facing a barrage of criticism and some very difficult decisions.
The latest figures from comScore today show Bing clawing back half a percentage point of the US search market for Microsoft in July. At 8.9 per cent, its share is now up nearly a point from the 8.0 per cent recorded in May.
Eric Schmidt likes to claim that competition for Google’s search users is “just one click away”.
It’s easy to brush that off as a gesture to appease regulators, or just plain paranoia. But there’s a clear element of truth to it.
ComScore’s latest analysis of the US search market, released today, rubs in the point that Google’s users have already found out how to click elsewhere: they just aren’t doing it that much yet.
Does Microsoft really have the stomach to pour another $10bn or more into the seemingly bottomless pit of internet search?
Steve Ballmer was certainly talking tough on Thursday, declaring that the company was prepared to commit 5-10 per cent of its annual operating income (2008 total: $22bn) to search for the next five years.
This is not really surprising. He has made similar comments in the past. And as Youssef Squali at Jefferies points out, based on the last few quarters Microsoft is already losing around $2bn a year in online services. So all Ballmer’s statement really adds up to is a declaration that he is prepared to stay the course.
However, coming nearly three weeks after the launch of Bing, it is the timing, rather than the content, of the message that is important.
Bing has moved the needle for Microsoft, but not much.
That is according to figures from comScore, which showed an increase in traffic to the new Microsoft search service in the days since it was launched. Curiosity about Bing lifted the number of Microsoft searches by 20 per cent from the week before and the numbers held steady for five days, suggesting searchers liked what they saw and have been coming back for more.
That still only amounts to two extra points of market share, though.
Microsoft is taking aim at Google’s core business with Bing, its new search engine.
Initial reviews around the web are positive. CNET said, “in search presentation, Bing wins.” Geekword said it was not just renamed Live Search, but rather “a significant upgrade that contains new features and a new interface and is considered as a decision engine.” But Search Engine Land made it clear that, “no, Bing is not a ‘Google Killer.’”
FT reporter Joe Menn attended Bing’s unveiling at the D7 conference, and filed this report:
Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer gave an impressive demonstration of the company’s improved search engine, rebranded as “Bing,” at a technology conference in Carlsbad California.