To add to Microsoft’s growing list of partners in its battle to take on Google (NSDQ: GOOG) in the search market: Hot location startup Foursquare. Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) says that users of Bing Maps will now be able to “see foursquare check-ins, badges, and mayorships in Bing Maps and see tips from any foursquare customer and zoom to the location for visualization.” The deal comes as Microsoft has been making a major push to make its Maps product more competitive with that of Google; it launched a complete overhaul of Bing Maps in December (adding new ‘Streetside’ images to match Google Maps’ own Street View) and has also integrated data from local blogs, Twitter, Flickr and other sites with the product.
There’s no mention that the relationship is exclusive, but — for at least the time being — it gives Microsoft a partner that Google does not have. It also gives Bing — the big underdog here — some startup cred. Already, Microsoft was able to announce deals to include real-time feeds from both Twitter and Facebook before before Google did so (It also has a partnership with WolframAlpha that Google does not have).
Microsoft announced the FourSquare tie-up, as part of a series of spring updates to Bing. Other changes include UI tweaks (which highlight some of the structured data Bing pulls for some queries), as well as a new car search feature.
As it did with its predecessor, Live Search, Microsoft appears to be going with a strategy of announcing both a major spring and fall update for Bing. This fall saw a number of new features added to the search engine, including the real-time search tie-ins, a visual search feature and a new video search page beefed up with MSN Video.
It all seems to be paying off; Microsoft has managed to post nine straight months of market share gains: Its share of the search market is now at 11.5 percent, up from 8 percent prior to its remake last June.