Thursday, May 28, 2009

Danny Sullivan on Microsoft search

Danny Sullivan has a couple great posts ([1] [2]) on Microsoft renaming its search engine to Bing, the new features and improvements in relevance coming along with the launch, and what it might mean for Google and Yahoo.

Danny is wise in the ways of search. His words are well worth reading.

Update: To be clear, just because I think Danny's posts are well worth reading doesn't mean I agree with him on everything. In fact, quite the opposite, I usually find the most interesting articles to be the ones that make a convincing argument on something with which I disagree.

One particular point of disagreement I have with Danny is on whether Microsoft's Bing needs to be different or better than Google to succeed. Many, including Danny, have said that being good enough isn't enough because of the power of Google's brand. I'm not sure that's true.

Until now, we haven't been able to tell who is right since Microsoft's search has been noticeably weaker than Google's. But, as Rafe Needleman noted, as did Danny, the name change to Bing comes with substantial improvements to relevance.

So, I think we're about to get the first real test of whether being about as good as Google is enough to see people using Microsoft's search engine.

Update: A week later, Danny Sullivan has a Q&A with Nick Eaton. Interesting how low Danny sets the bar for success for Microsoft's Bing, saying, "They're roughly at 10 percent [market share], I think that they could count themselves really successful if they got themselves to 15 or 20."

Update: Three weeks later, an article in the NY Post claims, "Co-founder Sergey Brin is so rattled by the launch of Microsoft's rival search engine that he has assembled a team of top engineers to work on urgent upgrades to his Web service." Frankly, I find that a little hard to believe, at least as phrased. Seeing as Microsoft is getting closer, I would expect Googlers are redoubling their efforts to stay ahead in core search, but I doubt that Sergey, Larry, or Eric are deeply rattled by some new competition.


Mostafa Siraj said...

I agree with you, that being the best doesn't mean having more market share. but I think Microsoft has a huge marketing arm that can change facts if they really built a good engine.

jeremy said...

I'm glad to hear at least one lone voice in the wilderness not beating the "it has to be better" absolutist drum. Or, at least, being willing to not jump immediately to that conclusion.

Jon Udell had an interesting post last fall about the idea of "usefully different" in search engine results. It's worth a read; the meat of the article comes about halfway through.