Dinging Bing: 5 reasons why Microsoft’s new search engine will fail

Opinion – Now that we all had a chance to play with Microsoft’s new Bing engine, are we ready to ditch Google? Are we binging instead of googling? I’d like you to chime in and let us know what you think of the search discover engine, but here is some food for thought and why I am pretty sure that Bing will be just another name in Microsoft’s odyssey for a search engine that can conquer the world.  

1. Bing? Are they serious?
Branding is a big deal. You don’t search it anymore, you google it. Microsoft needed an equivalent that has the potential for brand equity. But, gee, guys, Bing? It may be a matter of taste, but binging someone just does not sound right. Microsoft CEO Ballmer said that Microsoft “needed a name that says this is all about search.” How does Bing shout search? There is no connotation to search, nothing cool or remotely popular to it. Seriously, Kumo would have been a better choice in my mind. It is just a matter of time until Microsoft drops Bing again.

2. Simplicity vs. complexity
Google’s search pages are light weight and fast. There is everything you need and nothing you don’t. They may not be pretty to look at, but they are practical. I am sure that the layout can be improved, but it seems that Microsoft is trying to reinvent the wheel with Bing. Where Google is simple, Bing seems to be complex. The front page carries a picture with random information of the day few people who are looking for specific information are interested in. Again, the design is a matter of taste, but the current layout and color scheme are a matter of taste, but the search results are fragmented into different silos, such as images and shopping, while they are unified in Google’s search results. Microsoft will have to reduce the number of clicks necessary to find information, no doubt about it.

3. Who needs a Discover engine?
Personally, I believe the entire idea behind the market positioning of Bing is screwed up. Marketers have taken big shots at the term search engine over the years. In my opinion, I always like the phrase “find engine”, but it never made it into consumer minds. But seriously, when you visit a search engine, do you want to search or discover? And how often do you have the time and say “let’s discover something today!” Google and Bing, whether Microsoft likes it or not, are about search efficiency, not wasting someone’s time by pitching information they are not interested in. Nice idea, Microsoft, to have a pretty picture on the front page, but I was looking for Pentium III pictures today, why would I be interested in windmills in the Netherlands? A wasted effort.

4. Discount shopping gone wrong
So you get cash back for buying through Bing. Up to 15%. Unfortunately, the prices you see already include the cash back. Walmart, for example, sells the Zune 4GB black player for $100 on its site, but offers it for $95 on Bing. Not bad, if you want to deal with cash back within 60 days. The problem for me is that Bing isn’t as comprehensive as Google’s product search and I have yet to find an example where Bing offers a substantial advantage in terms of price over what Google finds. Right now, the cash back feature may be considered a bit confusing. You still have to do your research. And just because you get cash back does not mean you get a great deal.     

5. Google, cloned?

Microsoft’s motivation and strategy is clear. Take the best from Google and improve what Google has not done right yet. From a usability view, Bing may be a decent search engine, but why would you switch from Google, if you are used to it? What is so convincing about this service that makes you drop Google as your homepage? I’ll admit, there are highlights, such as the Bing image search (nice job, guys!), but beyond that, there is no revolutionary feature that would make your search much more efficient than what Google offers today. As much money as Microsoft may sink into Bing marketing, I don’t believe Bing has the sex appeal and feature set to chain down users.      

Wolfgang Gruener is the founder of TG Daily. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.