This could be the perfect storm for Bing to gain market share and become a substantial threat to Google – or so we better hope.
Last week, Google and Verizon announced a deal that may very well kill net neutrality for mobile devices, as PC World reports. This sentiment is echoed throughout the industry including this post from my colleague and industry expert Rob Garner on MediaPost. This crucial misstep has revealed Google is not a benevolent champion of free speech and internet neutrality, but that they’re no different from any other company that holds a monopoly-sized share of the market – greedy. In fact, the only real difference between Microsoft in it’s peak and Google now is that Microsoft didn’t try to pretend they were benevolent good guys, whereas Google wants you to drink the “Don’t be Evil” Kool-Aid until it poisons you. This Silicon Alley Insider article frames this phenomenon quite well.
But this isn’t all about Google making a major misstep and turning off many people (like myself) who were once Google fanatics.
For Bing to take off and truly become mainstream, they need not only a good product, but users motivated to try something new. Before, I had no reason to venture away from Google – it has always provided great results, great products (usually for free), and claimed to be the champions of the internet, free speech, and net neutrality. Why change search engines if Google has everything I need and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside?
Now I have the motivation to change – I’m jaded with Google. Add to that, Bing (finally) has the product worth switching to (or at least trying…).
Bing has revamped their search results since former “Live” and has actually has been ahead of Google in integrating Social Media into search results, which is an increasingly important part of the internet to users. Bing was the first (and has still done the best job) at integrating Twitter into it’s search results, they were the first to add Foursquare into their Maps, they were the first to add “infinite scroll” to their Images (which Google even admits was a copy cat move of Bing here), and much more.
While Google’s algorithm is still a bit more sophisticated, Bing is also catching up in this area. To the untrained eye, Bing’s algorithm is usually pretty decent. I hate to say it, but they still have their work cut-out here…luckily Google has also been slacking recently, as Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz points out the growing amount of spam in Google and the disappointing recent progress at Google in doing anything about it.
To webmasters, Bing is catching up to Google in their offerings as well. They are revamping Bing Webmaster Tools to include more useful information, and they will be integrating Yahoo Site Explorer (an invaluable tool for webmasters & SEOs alike) into the Bing Webmaster Tool suite. Again, they still have plenty of catch up with Google’s robust offerings, but they’ve made a ton of progress and it’s a very good start.
According to Hitwise, in July Bing held 9.85% of the search share and Yahoo held 14.37%. Yahoo searches are now powered by Bing as of this morning (August 19, 2010), which means that those numbers should still be pretty accurate, implying close to a 25% market share for Bing.
That 25% market share, combined with a Google PR nightmare and a significantly improved Bing experience could be the perfect storm to disrupt Google’s smooth sailing…and let’s all hope so.
Not only is Google’s threat to net neutrality a reason to hope they have a valiant competitor, but competition itself is a good thing for both engines. I like choices. Clearly Bing’s competition has spurred Google to innovate further, in many cases stealing or building upon ideas Bing introduced first. Competition is good for everyone, and it means that Google no longer has so much power they can single-handedly undermine net neutrality. In a wierd sort of way, Microsoft could be the last hope to prevent Google from becoming an evil monopoly – who woulda thunk.