Three years ago, I laid out a 12-step program for breaking the Google habit, but have yet to personally conquer step two: “Believe that there is a greater resource out there.”
1. Bing has nearly doubled its U.S. market share since launching three years ago. When Bing first launched at the end of May in 2009, it stood at 8% share of U.S. search queries, per comScore. Today, Bing’s at 15.4%. Granted, it’s all come at the expense of Yahoo -- which makes the Search Alliance a wash, but it’s still an impressive feat. Watching Bing inch along each month, I’m reminded that Steve Ballmer’s taking the long view here. As he said in early 2010, “Tomorrow’s goal is to gain a few points, a tenth here, a tenth there, and just keep working and working.”
2. Bing really is for doing. After Bing launched, I played around with it for a few days and, as part of a lengthy review, concluded, “Bottom line, Bing is far and away the most serious challenge to Google that anyone's ever posed.” I still stand by that assessment. From the beginning, it wasn’t so much the functionality as it was the positioning of Bing as a “decision engine” that paid off the shrewd consumer insight that people search not to find but to act. Today, the functionality is catching up -- and, sure enough, Bing is for #Doing as these 10 features exemplify.
3. Google is distracted. Despite all thespring cleaning, Google still seems like it could use an order of the Garlinghouse special as the Big G moves forward with Motorola Mobility and sorts through assets of the other 25 companies it acquired in 2011. With the surging popularity of Chrome (#1 worldwide at 33%) and Android (#1 globally with 59% of smartphones) not to mention Gmail (350 million active users) and Google+ (just kidding), I’m reminded of my very first Search Insider column back in 2006, “Is Google Scrambling?” Indeed, with an upper-60% search share in the U.S. (and higher in other regions), it’s hard to fault Google for not doing more to innovate the search experience. Sure, the Knowledge Graph is cool, but it’s nothing more than an expanded one-box result and well-timed pre-IPO dig at Facebook’s social graph. Meanwhile…
4. Facebook has friended Microsoft. When Microsoft invested $240 million in Facebook at a $15 billion valuation in 2007, everyone assumed it was a move to box out Google and claim ad syndication rights. After the Facebook IPO topped $100 billion a few weeks ago, it’s clear the deal made good plain financial sense for Microsoft. But there’s more. Over the past few years, the two companies have teamed up on some serious search innovation. The new Bing is the best integration of social that I’ve ever seen on any search engine -- even Microsoft Research’s so.cl.
5. Skype integration. Microsoft has already incented Bing use via Skype credits. But “Bing and Skype are working on other ways [they] can help [their] users do more online.” I say, “Bing it on!”
6. Bing on Xbox is the future of entertainment search. OK, so those are their words, not mine. But, just like Siri on iPhone, Bing on Xbox is enhanced by voice and has native context for determining intent. Bing for iPad is no slouch, either.
7. They’re willing to pay you to use it. Rewards, anyone?
8. Windows phones ain’t bad. I’m not the only one dealing with #DroidRage, and some of the new Windows phones -- especially the latest from Nokia and HTC -- look pretty cool.Bing has a bunch of nifty mobile apps -- including Bing Local Scout and Bing Vision -- that come standard on Windows Mobile and will help drive further adoption.
9. It’s just so pretty. Those Bing homepage images are so darn good-looking, you almost forget what you came to the site to do. Um, yeah, maybe that’s not such a good thing. But you have to hand it to the Bing homepage images team. While you may not be able to play music with its logo, Bing does a pretty bang-up job of keeping things so fresh, if not clean, clean.
10. They have some very talented people. Now I won’t go naming any names, as one in particular is easily embarrassed, but Microsoft has brought in topnotch talent to push the Bing agenda. At the end of the day, your product is only as good as your people. And from Qi Lu on down, Bing has some horses I’d bet on. To be sure, I may not be ready to kick the Google habit just yet -- but, when it comes to giving Bing a shot, I’ll Have Another.