PaidContent notes that in January, Microsoft trademarked the word “Sift” for:
operating system software for mobile phones; computer search engine software; computer programs for searching email, text messages, address and contact information
We’re taking a stab in the dark, but it sounds to us like “Sift” is a product for searching through the contents of a Windows Mobile phone, picking out contacts, emails, etc. (A feature also coming to Apple’s upcoming iPhone 3.0 software.)
While “Sift” could be used to search the Internet from a Windows Mobile phone, the word seems unlikely to be used in a general Web context. Moreover, Microsoft doesn’t own the rights to sift.com or sift.net — both of which are real Web sites — or sift.org. By contrast, Microsoft already owns both kumo.com and bing.com. (Of course, Microsoft could easily own any domain name it wanted for the right price.)
Whatever Sift is, Microsoft needs to figure out its branding strategy fast. One of the problems the company’s online division has always had is an inability to decide on a single, clear brand idenitity: At various times we’ve heard “Live Search,” “MSN Search,” “Windows Live Search” or whatever. Replacing all the old terms with a trio of new words like “Kumo” and “Bing” and “Sift” is no improvement.
Fine for Microsoft to trademark all sorts of words while the company focus-groups its options. But in the end, there should be one brand the company promotes across all Microsoft platforms — including its phones.