Have You Ever Binged Yourself?

 I Binged myself over the weekend to see what turned up. It sounds a little funny and maybe even a little dirty -- or maybe like I hurt myself or stubbed my toe against the leg of the dining room table. But if Microsoft has its way, then that term will become as ubiquitous as the one referring to the 800-pound search gorilla we call Google.

 

If you're like me, you're intrigued about Bing, the new search engine from Microsoft. I'm intrigued because I actually like PCs and I like the most recent Microsoft campaigns -- but I'm skeptical about the company's search strategy. Working in this industry as I do, I'm familiar with the stops, starts and missteps that have defined Microsoft's efforts in search over the last 15 years. I'm curious about whether the company can right the ship, so I decided to try Bing for myself.

As always, I began with the same two searches I start with on every new platform: "Pearl Jam" and my own name. The homepage of Bing is intriguing. It's attractive because it changes and uses different pictures rather than the standard white page with search box that Google led with. I like it because it's simple yet still elegant, but of course I was always taught to never judge a book by its cover, so I went deeper inside. Upon searching for "Pearl Jam," I was shown some sites that rarely pop up on the first page of Google and I really enjoyed the nav bar along the left that redefines the parameters of the search. Upon searching for myself, I was intrigued to see Facebook profiles popping up, which is something I never see on Google. I dug a little deeper and came up with this brief analysis of Microsoft's new platform.

The Good

  • I love the "Explore" button; it becomes a way of launching into a surfing behavior. I may not know where I want to go, but I can certainly follow a suggested path.
  • The dynamic nav bar on the left rail allows you to refine the category of search results, which is a great way of clearing the junk from the results that I'm just not interested in.
  • The homepage is very cool, very picturesque, and easy to use. I like pictures and I like the inviting feel of the page.
  • I like that it searches deeper Web pages, like Facebook pages, when you are searching for people.
  • I like that it keeps my search history. This is useful when going back and trying to use search as a navigational tool for rediscovering something you found previously.

     

    The Bad

  • I find the TV commercials annoying . That's a big statement to make because I honestly and truly love the current Microsoft "I'm a PC" campaign, but not this aspect of the company's efforts.
  • I'm not too sure that I'll remember Bing all the time, but I always remember Google. Microsoft definitely has an uphill battle to fight, much like Sisyphus, in that the company needs to break a habit, change behavior, and get people like me to stop using the built-in Google toolbar. I did install the Bing toolbar in Firefox to give it the old college try, and so far I'm happy with the experience.

    The Indifferent  

  • The user experience is not dramatically different from that of Google or other engines. The differences are subtle -- and subtlety is sometimes lost on the public at large. The biggest hurdle will be in convincing the average user that these results are substantially better, because as many pundits have said, most people don't know that search is broken.

     

    My summary: I like Bing and I think it's worth a shot, but if the results aren't good, then it's back to Google I go! And just for a laugh, check out what comes up when you search "Bing" on Google. A mix of news articles, energy drinks and Bing Crosby pop up, leading you to be unclear as to whether the name will ever stick.

    Here's to seeing what happens over the coming months, because I love capitalism; competition can only be a good thing because it makes everyone better. I look forward to watching the rise of Bing and the response from Google as well as the swarm of other challengers in this highly utilized and highly combative category!

    Here's to all of you!

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    5 comments about "Have You Ever Binged Yourself?".
    1. Marquita Arnold from - , June 10, 2009 at 11:58 a.m.

      Have you been reading my mind?? LOL!! Not only did I Bing myself out of curiosity but I've been saying the same things about both engines.

    2. Jeff Cole from JJC Communications LLC , June 10, 2009 at noon

      I think the marketplace has already spoken: Bing briefly rose to number two and then slid right back down. It is not going to defeat Google.

      Google is becoming so ubiquitous on the web that I cannot see Microsoft beating it. Rather with the rise of GMail, Google Chat, Google Docs, IGoogle and soon Google Wave, I think the opposite is happening. Plus, Google is now working closely with Apple. It is going to be a tough combo to beat.

      In fact, the best comment I have read so far is that Bing stands for "But, It's Not Google."

    3. Monica Bower from TERiX Computer Service , June 10, 2009 at 12:04 p.m.

      Bing has an uphill battle, but the simple fact that it has few vocal detractors is fairly incredible. It means that out of the gate Bing has managed to charm or at least silence the roiling mass of opinionated people who simply hate Brand Microsoft regardless of its product, be they old school Apple fundies or new school PS3 gamers, who have been naysaying MS Search since before it was Kumo.

      Bing is grand. I'll state the obvious that I haven't seen stated elsewhere: If Bing had come first there would be no Google at all. Of course, had there been no Google it's unlikely MS could have developed Bing; though not the first, Google was clearly the best of the second generation search tools. Bing starts with that and does a very nice job, generally, of blowing off the chaff and getting to the kernel of whatever it is you're actually using a search engine for.

      This was a good article among many that have come through MediaPost and other outlets because it mentions Google's real reason for 80% entrenchment - not their fantastic search tool (which is not fantastic) but their fantastically spammy toolbar that everything from Adobe to WinZip (almost A to Z) adds to your browser when you install their software unless you're savvy enough to say no, no, seriously NO.

      Bing won't do to search what the iPhone did to cellphones; it's not that revolutionary. But the MS strategy has never been the Blitzkrieg; it's been the Anaconda, letting competitors breathe but squeezing a little tighter each time until they discover - as Sony is discovering in the console market, for instance - that suddenly there is not enough oxygen left for them to survive.

      Bing 360 anyone?

    4. Roy Moskowitz from Reciprocal Results , June 10, 2009 at 2:35 p.m.

      My Bing search results were superior to what Google has been giving me lately. The quality of Google results have been going down hill over the years because of their de facto search monopoly. Google has grown too big for its own good and has made it impossible for users to meaningfully interact with them. They need to institute a policy of responding within 12 hours of email inquiries and complaints, live chat and something Google has never provided, live human phone customer service.

      My one complaint about Bing thus far, is that it doesn't allow you to retrieve more than 10 results at a time. I frequently examine the top 100 results for search terms and it is rather cumbersome to be forced to look at 10 individual results pages.

    5. Rich Benci from Benci Consulting, LLC , June 10, 2009 at 7:27 p.m.

      It's the $$$ that counts, and Google has THE BEST monetization engine in the marketplace. With Bing having a slightly better user interface and results list than Google (until Google updates their algorithms) not many consumers outside of the online media industry will even notice.

      Marketers are who spend the money, so they are the ones that count. They want the best way to target, track, and get a strong ROI ... and I don't see Bing denting Google's positioning there.