Is Microsoft's Bing search engine a credible challenger to Google?
LONDON - The internet search market has shown few signs of movement in recent years, with the number-one player attracting a huge proportion of the available business. Could this all be about to change?
John Bernard, marketing director, AVG
Bing is looking to take search to the next level and could achieve the ultimate goal for online marketing - monetising a service.
We have too many services that claim to increase bottom line or reduce customer churn without achieving anything, but Bing's proposition could do both and get consumers spending rather than just ‘Windows shopping'.
One difficulty is pulling fiercely loyal consumers away from Google or Yahoo!, especially when they may be integrated with a Gmail or Yahoo! email account. There is also the issue
of mobile phones - increasingly the preferred medium for surfing - and the bespoke operator search facilities already in existence. Operators increase average revenue per user with data usage through existing alliances with Yahoo! and Google.
However, Bing has a distinct advantage here. With the Windows Mobile operating system installed on at least 15% of new handsets (and growing), this is the obvious method for seeding and retaining a base to hit market-share aspirations long term.
Nick Blunden, managing director, Profero London
Taking on Google in its search heart-land is a huge challenge, even for Microsoft. After all, in a little over 10 years, Google has gone from innovative start-up to business success story to cultural phenomenon.
However, Bing certainly has some of the hallmarks of a credible challenger. By integrating it into Internet Explorer and MSN, and backing it with signifi-cant marketing expenditure, Microsoft has every chance of negating the ‘sleep search' phenomenon.
The software is also sufficiently innovative to lend credibility to Bing's claim to be a redefining ‘decision engine', rather than just another search tool. While it will not immediately dent Google's pre-eminence, sophisticated consumers will recognise that there is more than one way to search, and this will fragment the market.
Google will not rest on its laurels. The increased competition from a reinvigorated Microsoft will drive further innovation, which will benefit consumers and advertisers alike.
Will Abbott, marketing director, Freesat
Microsoft undoubtedly has the muscle and motivation for the fight, but its claim to Google's undisputed world crown feels unrealistic.
However much Microsoft spends advertising Bing, the service and user experience will need to be better than, not just as good as, Google's.
That's a big ask. Google is integrating services all the time. It is now more a multifaceted multimedia network than a search engine. While Bing's broad search results are good and it has some cool features (the image and video searches are impressive), Microsoft will need to introduce significant extra levels of search sophistication to pull people away from the default Google.
Furthermore, to establish and grow share, Bing will need to be integrated with Microsoft's other applications, not least Internet Explorer, and build a network of search partners.
I do not doubt that Bing will be successful and will probably supplant Yahoo! as the UK's number-two search engine. However, Google is not standing still and it will be an uphill battle for Microsoft to keep pace.
Michael Sugden, managing director, VCCP
My techie colleagues say yes, and it has a more characterful name than the anodyne Live Search, but that is as far as I can go in expressing my enthusiasm for Bing.
There seem to be three problems. First, to the average Joe like me, Google seems to be doing a pretty good job of what I understand it's supposed to do. From my untrained perspective, there are no deficiencies, and I suspect 95% of Google's users feel the same.
The second issue is that this is not like your unreliable, profiteering broadband supplier. It is free, and it is pretty darn good for that.
The final thing is that, in a constantly changing digital environment, which every year brings new obligations to master and new applications from Spotify to Twitter, there is something reassuring about having that one digital constant.
So, sorry Microsoft, it sounds great, but I really just can't be arsed to shift off this rather comfortable seat.
This article was first published on marketingmagazine.co.uk
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