Photo: Associated Press
Microsoft’s search engine Bing has been adding so many features lately, it’s hard to keep track.This highlights the biggest dilemma in Microsoft’s effort to grab market share from Google: average consumers are habitual Google users, and so far there’s no single clear reason why they should give Bing a try.
In the last couple of weeks alone Bing has announced or added:
- The “likes” of Facebook friends highlighted in search results
- Interior views of buildings and restaurants
- Maps of malls
- Integration with OpenTable and GrubHub to make restaurant reservations
- Real-time transit information and Streetside views for Bing Mobile
I’m sure I’m missing some others as well.
These are all fine additions, and many of them aren’t available on Google. But what do they all add up to? Unfortunately, not much.
Microsoft talks to reporters and analysts about Bing’s focus on completing tasks rather than simply finding sites on the Internet. But that message doesn’t come through in the company’s TV commercials, which focus on particular scenarios like holiday shopping and planning your day out at a football game. Lots of little stories don’t add up to a single compelling reason for users to break the Google habit.
Bing’s exclusive deal with Facebook could change that.
Microsoft hasn’t made much use of Bing’s Facebook integration yet. But it is watching the social networking market very closely and finding that more than 100 million people click on Facebook Like buttons every day. Equally important, evidence is growing that users are more likely to use a friend’s recommendation than a search engine like Google to discover relevant information online.
In 2011, look for Microsoft to begin pushing these social features more aggressively.
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