Microsoft Got A Bright Idea From Amazon: Selling Search As A Service

Ballmer's head lightbulb idea

Photo: AP

That was fast.Amazon today announced a service called CloudSearch in which it is making its own home-grown search engine available as a service to Amazon cloud users. 

Now Microsoft is putting Bing on its own cloud, Azure.

The two kinds of searches aren’t really the same. Amazon will search material that app developers are storing in Amazon’s cloud. So, for instance,  a developer could use it to allow his app to search photos. Or messages. Or entries in a database.

Bing’s service searches for stuff that Bing has already found from all around the Web. So, for instance, a music app could use the Bing API to search for music videos from around the Web. It’s a lot closer in nature to Google’s search API.

But the business model — charging developers to use a hosted cloud service — is the same.

The bummer is that Bing was previously available to developers for free. Now if they want to tap into Bing for their apps, they are going to have to sign on for the Azure cloud service and eventually pay for it, at a cost of about $40 per month for up to 20,000 queries, says Microsoft’s blog post.

Another bummer for developers who use Bing is that they will have to go back and rejigger their apps to use the cloud paid service.

Google also charges developers: $5 per 1,000 queries.

In that light, Bing is still a relative bargain.

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