Search wars – Past, Present and future – Bing, Google or new entrant?

My favourite quote of the year, interestingly, was about Bing. In June 2009, The Onion asked the question, “Microsoft has announced the launch of a new search engine it calls “Bing.” What do you think?” George Wade replied, “Bing? Interesting. I’ll have to Google that when I get home.” 

As the year, 2009, draws to a close and I write my last blog of the year (I will return, Insha’Allah, in the New Year). I wanted to write about, ‘Search’ that will have the greatest impact on our Internet lives, not only now but well into the future.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, as we have all realised as life progresses. Why am I mentioning this? Internet and indeed Web Search Engine history is fascinating as the pace of IT continues akin to a Ferrari in the fast lane, as a branch of IT, the web’s pace has been analogous to that. Even before, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, searches were conducted using Archie (Inspired by Archie comics), Veronica etc. This was eventually followed up by the acceptance of Netscape Navigator as the world’s first leader of web browsing software. In the early 90s, Microsoft (MS), did not think that the Internet would really take off, and even their boss said, “The Internet? We are not interested in it”- Bill Gates, 1993. That soon changed when they went head to head with Netscape and launched Internet Explorer, in the first browser war that MS eventually won. At the time, even I thought that MS could not win and that Netscape would retain its title and the majority of its market share.

As I was becoming comfortable with Yahoo, along came Google and swept us all away. The ever evolving pace of technology seems to catch most of us off guard. Who could have known, even a few years ago, that the iPhone would give established players like Nokia a run for their money.

So, we arrive in the present, just before Christmas 2009 and are left to wander whether the razzmatazz with which MS launched, its new search engine, Bing, has actually made a dent to Google’s popularity or not. After all, inspite of being in denial in June that it was not competing with Google, we all knew that MS was after Google’s crown. 

If we take into account, the first browser wars, the battle was simple as it was just between two browsers. Forward to the future, today and it is a completely new and different arena and era. It is a complicated affair as it is not simply a battle between Google and Microsoft for the, ‘search’, crown anymore. Both MS and Google thrive on innovation. Technological history has taught us that innovative businesses do not always get things right, as witnessed by Nokia losing to Apples’s iPhone, MS Zune to iPod/iPhone and Google’s failed products.

So, anyone sense where I am going with all of this? Well, firstly, in the true sense of innovation, Google acknowledges and accepts when it has brought a product to market that fails to capture the imagination of that market and withdraws such products, whereas, others haven’t done that. What is the secret to Google’s success? It’s simple, no, really it is. The secret to Apple’s and Google’s success is that they listen to us, the customer. They are finely attuned to what, we, the consumer want and need, just as my previous article, has alluded to. Secondly, this battle is not just about the search functionality anymore, as Google is now providing Cloud Computing – MS has Azure now, the Chrome browser, Android mobile phone Operating System (OS) – MS has Windows Mobile, Chrome Desktop OS, YouTube , Google Wave – MS has no equivalent as far as I know, Google Docs  (MS equivalent version in Office 2010, free for home/students) and many more. Microsoft is still innovating, albeit, not so successfully. It is therefore clear that wherever Google/MS innovate, the other is forced to follow. This is the problem as it is becoming increasingly blurry on whether Google is a search engine or whether MS is a OS/Apps provider.

2010 will be very interesting as the search arena witnesses some significant changes, such as, news channels paying for inclusion within searches, Yahoo using Bing as its engine to take on Google and perhaps even the search for the holy grail of corporate data mining using search engine technology, as let’s face it, Google has been in the business intelligence business for many years now! MS is getting serious and judging by its recent release of Bing’s iPhone app, as always, will take the fight to Google. 

In terms of current market share, where are these two behemoths, well, again, it depends who you talk to. This article puts MS Bing with 10%, while this article reckons that the previous article is all baloney and that MS Bing has 3.49%. Will we have a completely new entrant? Who knows

For those, who want to use Google side by side, click here

Let the wars begin

Let me finish by wishing everyone a merry Christmas and a happy new year.


About mubbisherahmed
I am passionate about IT and its ability to deliver cost effective, value for money solutions that can enhance performance and in many cases provide competitive advantage by using a range of solutions and approaches in innovative ways.

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