So Microsoft have launched their new search engine ‘Bing’
(currently in Beta ahead of the official launch on June 3rd 2009) and it looks good, usability is good, offers a few nice little features like the related searches , it even brightens up your browser with different photographic scene every day on the home page .. but will it really rival Google?
Although the site looks good, feels good and works well its unlikely anyone will ever capture Google’s huge chunk of market share. The basic facts are that too many people use Google, are already comfortable with how it works and have no real reason to change. It’s like a household product, if you are already happy with it, the price is the same and does the job that it’s supposed to, why would you change?
So many new search engines have arrived with their so-called mission to take on Google and they have all failed, being forgotten almost overnight. I remember last summer reading in the press about some former Google employees who launched ‘Cuil’
. They had done brilliantly to raise so much awareness online and in the press at launch, but a year on and I must admit I had to look up their name whilst writing this blog (on Google of course).
Word of mouth is the best marketing tool and if Bing can start attracting users and continue to stay in the news it has a chance of taking some of Google’s market share. But we must remember that Bing is simply a re-launch of Microsoft’s Live.com
which was also their attempt to take some of Google market share. It failed to even make a dent!
As a consumer I actually quite like what I’ve seen so far of Bing’s usability. The ‘related search links’ for example appears to work better than to Google’s Suggest Tool as it makes refining searches easier and more relevant to the user’s search journey, particularly when looking for a product. This area of real estate in search listings also allows space for all sorts of future innovations.
The design layout is clean and the snippets of content and sub links that appear on mouse over of listings allow you to establish whether you really want to click through to a site. The current US version of Bing also seems slightly ahead in terms of homepage layout with a left hand navigation providing easy access to news, shopping, image and video search. I also like the ‘what’s popular now’ search links and installing Microsoft Silverlight
allows you to view photos and hotspots displayed before in the Bing homepage archive.
Bing has massive backing in Microsoft and it would certainly be good for the search industry to have a new serious contender for traffic but the jury is still out on whether it will be a success. Only time will tell and if it doesn’t become an overnight phenomenon the question will then become how long are Microsoft prepared to keep trying?