Commentary

The Slightly Desperate Google Killer?

Shortly after Microsoft launched its own search engine, the company promoted it with a sweepstakes contest that promised users the chance to win prizes by searching.

The idea was rightly mocked, with observers questioning why a search company would need to give people extra incentives -- beyond relevant results -- to use its search engine.

Despite the sweepstakes, and a high-profile ad campaign, Microsoft wasn't able to make a dent in Google's market share of search queries. If anything Google has continued to gain ground in the last two years, while Yahoo is solidly in the No. 2 spot and Microsoft has remained a distant third.

On Feb. 1., Microsoft publicly attempted to buy its way into a larger search share by offering to purchase Yahoo for $44 billion. Yahoo declined to accept, even after Microsoft raised the price to somewhere north of $47 billion.

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Today, Microsoft announced another attempt to buy its way into the search market: It will give rebates to Web users who purchase items after using the company's search engine.

This plan might make sense if there was no significant difference between Microsoft's search engine and Google's. But there's a reason why more people use Google than the other search engines: Users can find what they're looking for on Google. And all the e-commerce discounts Microsoft can offer aren't likely to change that.

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