Can Bing Ever Compete with Google?

August 2nd, 2011 by Search Influence Alumni

If you keep up with what’s in the news in the world of search engines, you know that there’s been a bitter little rivalry between Bing and Google for some time. In early February, Bing accused Google of stealing their search results. It didn’t help Bing’s case that they didn’t deny the claim either, instead saying, “…we use multiple signals and approaches when we think about ranking, but like the rest of the players in this industry, we’re not going to go deep and detailed in how we do it.”

Fast forward to now, where Microsoft was recently the topic of discussion in a lengthy article in the New York Times about Bing’s profitability — and how long it may take them before they have any chance of breaking even. Other reports claim that Microsoft has claimed 30% of the search market and that Google is “slowly sinking”, even though it still controls roughly 65% of the search market.

Bing has made respectable strides since its launch two years ago, but even so, it hasn’t been able to match the brute force of Google, which was the leading search engine among ten competitors back in 2002, only two years after its launch.  Surely, Bing will continue to grow, but even if can find itself on equal footing with Google, can that be considered success?

Microsoft’s Qi Lu says, “To break through, we have to change the game. But this is a long term journey.” He’s right … but how long will that journey be? Sources seem to think that Bing will need to demonstrate some sort of clear success before its tenth birthday to remain a contender.

How can Microsoft accomplish this? Voices all over the web have tons of ideas, but several of the key ones seem to stick out. Some suggest that Bing work both ends of the user spectrum, finding a way to appeal to every age range (much like Nintendo did with the launch of their Wii videogame console). Since Google tends to appeal to a young, tech savvy audience, this could be a valid approach for Bing. Microsoft should also focus carefully on their acquisitions, and try to see what could work best for them (here’s a hint: buying Skype for $8.5 billion might not have been the best choice).

Personally, I’m a fan of Google’s products, so until Bing can offer something better, I’m staying put. How do you feel about it?