Bing is still very much a work in progress, SVP Yusuf Mehdi told Search Engine Land‘s Danny Sullivan at the SMX Advanced Conference in Seattle — the same venue Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) used to officially relaunch its search engine a year ago. While Mehdi said the first year “was a good start” (the company has gained users and added four points of market share), he said some of the company’s distribution deals “haven’t worked out so well” and said the Cashback program — which Microsoft cancelled last week — “didn’t show growth.”
Going forward, Mehdi told Sullivan to expect the search engine to continue its steady roll-out of new features (the company introduced a new social vertical which lets users search through updates and links shared on Facebook and Twitter today) and also its ad onslaught. He wouldn’t say how much Microsoft was spending on the effort — but losses at the online services group grew to a staggering $713 million during the company’s most recent quarter, up from $411 million during the same period a year ago.
Here’s a sense of how far Microsoft still has to go to get anywhere close to Google’s dominance. This is what the room — which was filled with search marketing professionals — looked like when Mehdi asked at the end of the discussion how many audience members knew somebody who had switched to Bing:
Sullivan then brought out a cake with a candle to celebrate Bing’s first birthday, as “Happy Birthday to Bing” was awkwardly sung. Mehdi smiled but said, “I don’t think we deserve cakes and candles.”