So as we all know due to the berade of advertising, Microsoft has launched a new search engine, Bing, as a response to Google. And the question that remains is, will Microsoft be able to take market share away from Google?
To answer this question let’s look at the history of the two companies a bit.
Microsoft started out as a software company. When Bill Gates and Paul Allen began the company, they were writing software to be used on the Altair 8800, this was in the mid to late 70’s. Their software become incredibly popular and they quickly locked in deals to distribute their software and it took off from there. They went on to refine their software with MS-DOS and then Windows and now Vista. Along they way they have been extremely successful building and selling software and bundling their software into personal computers. So much so that they were part of the infamous monopoly case.
Google started out as a search engine. Larry Page and then Sergey Brin realized their was a better way to search through the information on the internet by putting emphasis on backlinks rather then how many times a keyword appeared on a page. They got some initial funding from some prominent angel investors and venture capitalists and continued to grow their search engine. Google quickly rose to become the most used search engine because of it’s uncluttered feel and amazingly good results.
As consumers we have grown our trust in Microsoft as a software provider. Microsoft Word dominates it’s field as does Excel and the Windows operating system. In much the same way Google dominates search because we have come to trust Google, even making the verb “google” an official word in the english language.
Microsoft trying to get into search is a classic case of a big company seeing a smaller company’s success in a particular field and trying to bully their way into that field. Unfortunately for the bigger company, this rarely ever works. Take a look at the company Sears. Sears was known as being one of the best providers of hard goods and was doing really well. So what did they decide to do? They decided to get into softgoods and then clothing. Unfortunatly for Sears, people continued to think of them as a hardgoods company and didn’t buy their softgoods or clothing. Sears had loads of overhead of softgoods and clothing, put millions into advertising these things and wound up losing a tremendous amount of money. All because people think of Sears as a hard goods company.
In the same way, I think of Microsoft as a software company. When I think of search I think Google. There is pretty much nothing that Microsoft can do that will make me think of them as a search company. Furthermore, Google is doing a really good job. They are continually improving, have kept their site clean and have kept me, the consumer happy. So why would I switch to Microsoft Bing? Certainly not because of an advertising campaign that Microsoft is doing. I have logged thousands of hours on Microsoft operating systems and software and thousands of hours using Google search all of which has ingrained the idea into me about what these respective companies are for. No way an advertising campaign can break these perceptions.
Microsoft made a mistake a year ago with their failed acquisition of Yahoo! and is going to fail again with Bing. They need to stick to what they are good at which is software develpment and continue to be innovative in that field. Because in the field of search, Microsoft simply can’t win.