MSN Live’s new search face Bing finally announced its launch and it seems to be the big buzz this week. My initial impression was that it looked a lot like MSN Live. Not much changed. But upon conducting a few searches I’ve noticed that there actually is quite a big change. The results seem to be far superior than they have been in the past. That makes me wonder if Microsoft’s relationship with Powerset is the driving force behind the new changes or if there more to it than mere search technology.
Personally, I believe Microsoft realized it was losing the PR war. I think they realized it was time to rebrand their search engine or forever be relegated to third place. Of course, Ask.com tried that and dropped Jeeves. It didn’t help. Will rebranding help Microsoft? Will it boost traffic to Bing?
I wouldn’t expect a sweeping turnaround. You won’t see a mass exodus of Googlers running to Bing themselves to oblivion. For one thing, Google is still the top brand in search and they got there with superior technology, so the underlying technology does matter. And Google is still improving on the best of the breed. But I think if I were on the Yahoo! search team I’d be worried. The first step to overcoming the leader in any race is to first overtake the followers ahead of you. Bing could very well do that within two years if searchers who typically use Yahoo! see the value.
The only way Bing is going to outdo Google is if you see a viral move from the ground up of searchers defecting because they think they’ll get better search results. No matter how good it is at Bing, I don’t think that is going to happen. What about you?