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Will Microsoft Score at the (Bada) Bing?

Over the past few days, there have been a lot of stories about Microsoft's soon-to-be-unveiled new search engine. I haven't seen it yet, but I'm rooting for its success. Skeptical, but rooting. Some thoughts:

* The new engine reportedly will be called bing. Its working name internally at Microsoft used to be kumo. I like kumo better. Bing makes me think of the Sopranos. Rocky thought of Chandler Bing from friends. TechCrunch mentioned Bing Crosby. Both of those are probably more obvious than an indirect Soprano's reference, but neither occurred to me. Is a search engine that makes me think of a fictitious strip club a good thing or bad?

* Microsoft's strategy to grab market share includes a huge ($80M) marketing campaign. As a founder of a search start-up that won't have $80M to invest in marketing, I'm skeptical of that strategy.

Buying market-share online is tough to do. Most of the successful online properties don't seem to have emerged from an immense marketing campaign, but instead from a smart product strategy. This isn't to say that Microsoft doesn't have both. I just don't think that TV ads or billboards will get me to use something online. The product itself needs to tell me why I should use it.

* With Microsoft spending $80M on marketing alone, it puts start-ups that have raised much smaller amounts into perspective. Here at Blekko, we're still lean and mean on our small raise, despite what others might say...

* So why would Microsoft throw that kind of money at search? We know the answer to that one: it's simply THE best online business to be in. The rest pale in comparison.

* With that, chalk up a new question for demo's/ testing: if Microsoft and their massive team of engineers and $80M in marketing can't make a dent against Google, how could Blekko possibly compete? I actually think the question is a pretty bad one - because in my mind there's no way an established company with a massive marketing budget can compete. The only one's who stand a chance against a market leader like Google is a start-up.

Why can't Microsoft compete? Well, the usual answers apply: they're too big, too slow, the marketing budget is a crutch, etc. But at the end of the day, this is a HUGE problem for competitors:

Google has conducted internal tests in which the company put its logo and treatment on another engine's search results. Users still prefer the results with the Google logo, even if they're not Google results.

With this type of problem you can't just make incremental adjustments to your exisitng product and throw a bunch of marketing dollars at it - you need a brand new approach. And big companies don't do well with new approaches. They require big bets, something only a small company can make because it has literally nothing to lose.

So I'm skeptical that users will score at the bing - but as I've set about every other attempt at search in the past, I'm rooting for them. Competitive search is not just good for Microsoft and Blekko, but most importantly, for users.

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Comments (7)

As a former Seattle resident, the first thing that "Bing" brought to mind is the variety of cherry that is ubiquitous in the produce sections of any local market in the Pacific Northwest. Perhaps not coincidentally, the season aligns nicely with MSFTs launch date.

They are great cherries, but clearly an obscure reference if you're not from the PacNW...

mike:

Right -forgot about bing cherries - ok so sopranos, friends, crooners and now cherries - maybe this name is both familiar and unencumbered - not a bad thing...

And now carbs...
Bing manufactures carburetors for BMW motorcycles and other machines.

Rob:

What can Microsoft do that Google hasn't already studied over the last 10 years or so? Search is a side business to Microsoft but the heart and soul of Google.

I bought a bunch of MS shares yesterday based on the bing promise. I hope they can pull it off and start generating some search revenues.

Thoughts went to Stanley Bing, who has his own response to $MSFT and condemns their brand intrusion:

http://stanleybing.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2009/05/28/bing-vs-bing/

Hope the cherries don't gang up at once.

Blair Lewis:

Few comments:

1. Bing immediately resonates as the sound of the cartoon light bulb that appears when someone has an idea, or a similar sound that you make when someone comes up with the right answer, I love the name

2. God bless their add budget to try and implant in the world's mind that there's alternatives to Google

3. Couldn't agree more that MSFT is doomed due to its size. It's going to take something great to beat GOOG, and great isn't produced by a team of 1000's

On a side note, what's the total tally of $ that MSFT is dishing out to fight off 2 of the Valley's giant's, Apple and Google? At some point will they realize that their sales will be driven by their products quality. Throw that cash into engineer bonuses, drop the ban on recruiting from Google and Apple you have, and go to war with another 200 million dollars to spend!

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