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GigaOM Pro: Why Microsoft can’t abandon Bing

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Microsoft’s online business lost $2.6 billion for its fiscal year, mainly due to its investment in search. Yet even with Yahoo’s outsourced search business, Microsoft barely cracks 30 percent in market share, according to comScore.

Last week, a Reuters Breakingviews piece that was picked up by the New York Times generated controversy and counter-commentary over Microsoft’s struggling efforts in search. Breakingviews suggested Microsoft abandon its money-losing search business and sell the Bing search engine to Facebook. That’s a bad idea.

Microsoft needs search for several reasons. For one, Microsoft must have a credible search engine business to defend its core platforms and APIs, as well as keep its biggest rival, Google, honest by forcing Google to create sustainable business models in competitive markets like applications and mobile. And a somewhat more successful search engine would solidify Microsoft’s own ad business and open emerging revenue streams. To read more about why search is essential for Microsoft, see my latest weekly update at GigaOM Pro (subscription required).

14 Responses to “GigaOM Pro: Why Microsoft can’t abandon Bing”

  1. George Phelps

    $2.6 billion…that explains why Bing wants me to pay ppc charges for the non valid “no referring link” clicks.

    I’ve seen thhis with other search engines in the past where they get in a financial crunch and try to hold onto all billing even when it’s not justifyable or provable.

  2. James Choie

    Sounds like MS knows that their Windows monopoly is gone and they need to make money somewhere big so why not search. If this fails MS is going the way of RIMM and Nokia soon.

  3. Cosa Nostradamus

    If Bing can’t beat Google’s ad-jammed, scammer-heavy and increasingly useless search results, who needs either one of them? They’re both all about advertising, not search. Will somebody please invent a CLEAN search engine, and put them both out of business? The last thing we need is TWO Microsofts, OR two Googles.

    They don’t even work for the advertisers any more. Their solution: “Spend more money!” My solution: Spend nothing on them. When you could get a sale for a ten-cent click, it was great. Now all you get is irrelevant clicks for $10 each, if you want placement in the first 5 pages. I’m going back to telephone directories, Craigslist, local outreach, etc. Bing & Google just can’t deliver results, for searchers & advertisers AND their own greedy bean-counters. They’re working at cross-purposes, shooting themselves, and the rest of us, in the foot.

    Yeah, Google was great back in the day, compared to the meta-search engines: Almost instantaneous & super-relevant results, with no ads. But the more ads, the less good results. We desperately need a free, open-source, workable alternative, a la Craigslist. Anybody?

  4. Cris Tate

    Dave are you a paid spokesperson for MS?

    I tried Bing, it was ok but it just spits out to much crap on the screen. The picture bit was interesting for awhile but honestly they need to put out a slimmed down version that feels like its centered on SEARCH instead of centered on selling me crap I most likely don’t want.

    Then there is the rewards program. There are NO PC GAMES>.
    I emailed them about it and they quickly got back to me and said that customers are better served by (wait for it) being offered Xbox crap! What the heck, Im on a PC, searching for PC games and being told that I, in fact wanted Xbox games for an Xbox I don’t own or intend to buy.

    • Hey Cris, no I don’t get paid. I just use the product. I also use Google, But Bing is smart I like the innovation and aspiration of the idea. The first time I tried Bing I thought; WT” is this. I tried it a few more times before I realized what I was Getting, how it delivers answers. I was accustom to Googles results of links, which I would scan looking for what might answer my search. Bing intends to supply an answer at the top, and links below. It works well for me, its a good tool.

  5. Bing is not struggling, it is innovative and offers real value to users. Users are struggling to step away from oldfashioned habitual ways. The saying; “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” has some play here.Technology has been pacing ahead at an increasing pace as it evolves. The user base remains slower to adapt to novelty, society has been aware of generational gaps. As the tech pace increases speed we have multiple gaps within a generation. Its difficult for people to step out of their comfort box, the familiar way is soothing even if its antiquated less effective technology. In a five year time frame a company once considered innovative and advanced becomes stuck in their ways, and the older companies considered old-fashioned adapt to reemerge as the innovator. People however remain commited to there habits over observing and using the changing landscape. These things take time with a massive population trained to think a certain way, the uptake of novelty starts with people who think outside the box then before it enters the main stream of the masses.

    • That read like pure astrourf.
      Anyhow Bing is massively behind Google.
      Compare maps, the rate at which a given website is indexed, interface enhancements like Instant, input sanitation (you can just about type a query with a closed fist).
      Bing just can’t hold a candle to Google.

      • Good for you Google is paying attention to Bing, answers rather than ten blue links, Google is adding features as a result of seeing Bing. Yes Google is a massive Corporation, it was incorporated in 1998. Bing released two years ago, it is a start up relative to Google. You like Google, you have a choice. Google gets better because of Bing.

  6. Ron Sheridan

    strangely I find myself hoping MSFT stays in the search space in a major way to make sure there is more competition..

    A shift is comming, I am just not sure when or where but I sense search will change in a big way…

  7. G.Mansfield

    For search to be viable, Microsoft needs a successful mobile platform.

    But Windows Phone has now become a sales disaster, to a point where it is impossible to recover.Yes, Microsoft should have succeeded in these areas, but the time has come where Microsoft must cut its losses and get out of those markets where it has failed.