Technologizer posts about Bing

Twitter’s Profitable (No, Really.)

By  |  Posted at 9:23 am on Monday, December 21, 2009

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Oft-criticized for its lack of a business model that could actually make the company some money, Twitter may be able to shut up those critics for a bit. BusinessWeek has learned that the company will be able to post a small profit for 2009 thanks to the content deals it signed during the year.

It’s deal with Google was worth about $15 million, and with Microsoft for Bing about $10 million. Without actual data on the company’s operating expenses — it does not publicly release this information — BW is guessing expenses would run about $20-25 million. That means Twitter may actually have an ever-so-small profit this year.

Helping Twitter to achieve this feat was efforts at cost reductions. It’s text messaging offering which sent tweets to mobile phones were one of its biggest expenses — with Twitter very popular, the company was able to leverage this to get better deals on messaging rates.

It remains to be seen whether Twitter can remain profitable. Job one of course seems to be these content deals, the easiest way for the company to generate revenue. Plans to charge for commercial accounts is another way — tweeting is the new fad in customer relations — and advertising is another way.

Such changes may affect Twitter’s feel slightly as it becomes more commercial, however the current business model is not very sustainable. There’s just no way in it for the company to make money. Venture capitalists are in the business to make money, you know.



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Another Day, Another Bing-is-Better-Than-Google “Study”

By  |  Posted at 10:32 pm on Thursday, December 3, 2009

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For the amount of time Microsoft spends lately beating us over the heads with how much better its Bing search engine is than Google, you’d think they would be in first place already. One of its latest examples is an effort by the Redmond company to convince us all that two-thirds of Google searchers would probably switch to its search engine if given the chance.

Microsoft has taken to its YouTube page for its latest schtick. In a three-minute video, the company says it recruited a “qualitative research firm” and had fifteen participants use Bing exclusively for a week. The company was not revealed as the sponsor of the study until after these folks told the researchers whether they’d stick with Bing or go back to their old search engine.

Continue reading this story…



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Should We Call It the Bing Screen of Death?

By  |  Posted at 10:27 pm on Thursday, December 3, 2009

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Microsoft’s Bing search engine went offline this evening, greeting visitors with an error message instead of a pretty picture and a search field–for somewhere between thirty minutes and nearly an hour, depending on which report you believe. I don’t see any mention of the outage, its end, or the culprit at Bing’s blog, but as TechCrunch’s MG Siegler points out, a member of the Bing team tweeted about it a bit. And the official Bing Twitterfeed says it’ll share details when it has them.

The outage’s timing isn’t auspicious–it comes a day after Bing’s big press event and rollout of new features. But at least it’s in good company: Google had a weird hour-long period back in January when it thought the entire Web was dangerous, and Gmail has suffered multiple extended hiccups this year. I wonder what the biggest Web site is that’s never been suffered for more than, oh, five minutes of unplanned downtime?

[UPDATE: Bing has explained the problem–unintended consequences of a configuration change.)



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Google/Bing: Minimalism vs. Maximalism

By  |  Posted at 2:13 am on Thursday, December 3, 2009

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I kinda doubt that anyone involved planned it this way, but yesterday provided an interesting study in contrasts between the world’s biggest search engine and its most notable rising star. In the morning, I attended a Bing press event. It was highlighted by the debut of a feature-packed new version of Bing Maps, but also included demonstrations of how you can get weather reports from three different providers right within Bing. And watch movie trailers, and view slideshows. Bing may be a search engine, but that doesn’t mean its goal is to get you to leave–it’s at least as happy if it can help you without you having to click away to another site, and it won’t shy away from throwing a lot of stuff at you.

Continue reading this story…



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What the World’s Been Searching For in 2009

By  |  Posted at 2:03 pm on Tuesday, December 1, 2009

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It’s become a tradition for the major search engines to release year-end summaries of what their users have been searching for–and for reasons unknown to me, all of them unveil these lists on December 1st, so they really cover 11/12th of the year.

After the jump, lists from Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Ask.com–sadly but unsurprisingly, the gent to the right hit number one on three out of the four charts. And just for the heck of it, I’ll tell you about the searches that bring folks to Technologizer, absolutely none of which involve deceased celebrities, reality TV, or infectious diseases.

Continue reading this story…



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Yup, Bing Gets Twitter Search

By  |  Posted at 12:16 pm on Wednesday, October 21, 2009

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bingtweetBack in July, Bing added some not-very-exciting Twitter integration to its search results. Today at the Web 2.0 Summit here in San Francisco, Microsoft confirmed the news that All Things Digital’s Kara Swisher broke (and my colleague Ed Oswald wrote about): Bing has a deal with Twitter to provide a much more sophisticated level of Twitter search within Bing. We just saw a demo of the new features, which are supposed to be live at http://www.bing.com/twitter shortly. (I’m getting that home page, but an error when I try to search.)

(As Kara reported, Bing also has a deal in place to provide results from Facebook, but those tools won’t show up immediately. Given the face that Facebook is so much more private than Twitter, I’m curious to see how Microsoft makes Facebook-within-Bing make sense.)

It’s impossible to judge a search engine from a brief onstage demo, but Microsoft’s goals are worthy, at least. Basically, it sounds like it’s trying to provide the service that Twitter’s own search should be but isn’t: The results weed out duplicate retweets and pointless blather, try to determine the most worthy Twitter users and push their items to the top, and show where short URLs are going. It’s also got features to spotlight Tweets that contain useful links. And the home page you get before you do a search provides Tweets on hot topics grouped by subject matter–a little like what Google News might look like if it pointed to nothing but Tweets.

The service will be especially useful if it’s easier to find old-but-still-useful Tweets than it is at Twitter itself, but it’s not clear how far back its index goes. (Qi Lu, Microsoft’s head online honcho, wasn’t sure.)

If Bing’s Twitter search turns out to be good, one obvious question about it is this: Shouldn’t really good Twitter search be available at Twitter? We don’t know much about Twitter’s plans for its own search, but it’ll be a tad odd if the best way to find stuff on Twitter is to go elsewhere. (Then again, many of us go to Google to search within specific Web sites, since it usually does a better job than the search features within sites themselves.) Did Twitter help Bing with its search feature because it’s working on something even more advanced of its own? Might another shoe drop in the form of Bing’s Twitter search becoming Twitter’s own search feature? Will it let other search companies (no, I’m not thinking of anyone in particular) provide their own Twitter search features?

(Side note: Web 2.0 cohost John Battelle interviewed Twitter’s Ev Williams last night here at the conference. Unless I misheard, Williams said “Scalability today isn’t an issue for Twitter.” Which is an interesting take–I’ve repeatedly seen Mr. Failwhale and his “Too many Tweets!” message while Tweeting about the conference…)

Twitter



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Real-Time Tweets Headed to Bing?

By  |  Posted at 9:11 am on Wednesday, October 21, 2009

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Twitter on BingKara Swisher over at Boomtown claims that Microsoft is close to a non-exclusive data mining deal with Twitter that would bring real time tweet results to Bing. According to her sources, an announcement on the deal could come as soon as the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco, which is happening this week. Twitter is negotiating with Google, although sources say the Bing deal is likely to be finished first.

If you think you may have heard this all before, you have (sorta). Back in July,  Hsrry reported that Bing had begun to integrate some tweets into search results. This mainly was just a test, and limited to certain prominent twitterers.

It appears however whatever is going on here might be more extensive. Tweets would be available in real time, and would probably be spread out across any search, rsther than just for searching specifically for the tweets of a certain person.



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Bing Shows Signs of Life in the US

By  |  Posted at 10:47 am on Wednesday, August 12, 2009

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Bing LogoYou might have noticed that Microsoft’s ads for its Bing search engine have become much more frequent on our pages as of late. I’ve noticed elsewhere a marked increase in advertisements for the service, which seems to imply that Microsoft may be staging another offensive in the war over search.

Data from StatCounter shows that Bing had an fairly impressive 13.2 percent share on Tuesday, its highest point in over two months — which was shortly after launch — and continuing a marked uptrend that began on Monday. It appears that Bing’s new-found traffic is generally coming from Google, as Yahoo has generally maintained its share throughout Bing’s rises and falls.

(That said, Google still dominates about 75 percent of the search market in the US, with Yahoo around 10 percent as of Tuesday.)

What remains to be seen is whether Microsoft can hold onto these gains. Given its past history, it probably won’t, although it seems that its wild swings are beginning to smooth out over the past few weeks. This is probably a result of more web consumers settling into using Bing on a regular basis rather than flipping back and forth between its competitors.

Microsoft may also be noticing this stabilization, and may see it as a good time to attempt to pry more eyes away from Google, thus the increase in Bing ads once again.

In any case, the service still has a far way to go before it can be considered relevant in the search engine space. With Google so dominant, especially worldwide, Microsoft has a lot of work to do.

Note that worldwide Google has 88.6 percent of the market, dwarfing Bing and Yahoo’s shares which are roughly tied at 4.7 percent each.



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Bing Gets a Jingle

By  |  Posted at 11:36 pm on Wednesday, August 5, 2009

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Bing LogoI just this very moment formulated a new theory about search engines: It may be impossible to do good TV-style advertising for them. They’re free, you can try them at will, and if they’re not pretty self-explanatory, they’ve failed from the get-go. All of which makes it hard to spend thirty seconds saying anything useful about them.

With that in mind, my instinct is not to judge the user-generated Bing jingle video that won Microsoft’s contest too harshly. TechCrunch’s MG Siegler compares it to Hell; I just find it…odd. (Possibly intentionally so, and odd in a catchy way, at least.) And except for the fact that the lyrics wouldn’t scan, it could be about any other search engine on the planet, from Google to a tenth-stringer like Mamma.

(I’m not going to stoop for criticizing the ad for the fact that the queries shown, such as “Learn to dance like Jonathan,” don’t provide useful results in Bing or any other search engine.)

Also looking on the bright side: It’s nowhere near as odd and ineffective as years and years of Ask.com ads that cost that company way, way more money than the $500 that Microsoft paid its contest winner.

Ask.com

Another plus: Bing’s new singing, dancing spokesman doesn’t vomit onscreen.

(Full disclosure: Bing is an advertiser on this site, and I’m a contributor to the Bing-sponsored BingTweets.)



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Twitter Lands in Bing

By  |  Posted at 1:18 am on Thursday, July 2, 2009

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Twitter on BingMicrosoft’s strategy with its Bing search engine seems to be, in part, to be visibly different from Google. Which is certainly the case with a new feature the company launched on Tuesday: embedded tweets in results. Searches for someone’s name that include “twitter” or “tweet,” or searches for someone’s Twitter name, may produce results topped by a little module with that person’s two most recent tweets and a link to his or her Twitter feed.

Here’s a random example:

Twitter on Bing

Okay, it’s not so random. Bing isn’t doing this with everybody–just a few thousand “prominent and prolific” Twitterers. (I assume I fall into the prolific bucket.) Bing’s indexing of Twitter results isn’t truly real-time, but does seem to be reasonably brisk–as you can see in the image above, it found my most recent tweet within minutes. Google finds tweets quickly, too–this tweet’s also in the Google index–but doesn’t have anything like Bing’s Twitter-centric module.

Microsoft doesn’t mention this in its blog post announcing the new feature, but the Twitter module also shows up even if you don’t reference Twitter in your search. Or at least the one for me shows up in results for “Harry McCracken.” It’s at the bottom of the first page of results.

None of this earth-shaking–or, really, a radical improvement on simply using Twitter’s own Find People feature. But I’m looking forward to the day when Google, Bing, and their rivals weave useful tweets into their results in a sophisticated way, and it’s nice to see tangible evidence that Microsoft’s starting to think about the problem. (As, of course, is Google–even if it hasn’t launched anything noticeably Twittery just yet…)



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Google: “We’re Still Cool.”

By  |  Posted at 4:37 pm on Monday, June 22, 2009

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Google has take a small step toward making it possible for computers to recognize landmarks in the physical world. Today, its researchers presented a paper at the Pattern Recognition (CVPR) conference in Miami, Florida that conceptualizes a technology to automatically tag locations within images.

It might not coincidental that Google is hyping its research not long after Microsoft launched its Bing “decision engine.” It needs to show that it is still the cool kid in the classroom.

A Google blog entry about the paper reads: “To be clear up front, this is a research paper, not a new Google product, but we still think it’s cool. For our demonstration, we begin with an unnamed, untagged picture of a landmark, enter its web address into the recognition engine, and poof — the computer identifies and names it: ‘Recognized Landmark: Acropolis, Athens, Greece.’ Thanks computer.”

When Bing earlier this month, the New York Post hysterically blustered about “fear gripping” Google, and co-founder Sergey Brin suposedly ordering “urgent upgrades” to its service. It is doubtful that fear is gripping Google, but Bing is snagging Google’s headlines.

Google’s research is just that– research. The company has not created any revolutionary process that is going to change the world anytime soon. What it’s doing is creating buzz, and it clearly wants to continue to be seen as the innovator of the search market.



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Microsoft Subsidizes iPhone 3G S

By  |  Posted at 6:28 pm on Friday, June 19, 2009

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File this one under “irony”‘ Microsoft’s is providing an incentive to purchase Apple’s iPhone though its Bing marketing campaign. In an attempt to entice users to try its Bing search engine, the company is offering 35% discount for AT&T’s online store, which sells iPhones.

When Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that Apple’s iPhone had “no chance” of gaining significant market share, no one would have expected that Microsoft would lend a hand one day.

The discount is valid for both existing and new customers. However, it is not immediately deducted from the purchase price for AT&T customers. Happy shopping. Could I also interest you in some Bing merchandise?



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Microsoft’s Next Search Move? Bing Merchandise.

By  |  Posted at 3:43 pm on Friday, June 19, 2009

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Bing LogoYou have to give the Bing faithful some credit. These folks are a persevering bunch and despite indications that it’s not doing all that much better than Windows Live did, they’d have you believing its the second coming of Google. Well, now the company is going full bore now and plans to offer merchandise to promote its new “decision engine.”

That’s right. Want a nice t-shirt emblazoned with the Bing logo? According to sources at Microsoft, its coming. How about a nice coffee mug or mousepad? That will probably be on its way too.

(This seems about as well thought out as Microsoft’s attempt at making dorkiness fashionable through its own line of clothing introduced last December.)

Call me crazy, but what is the point of this other than to appease the Microsoft fandom? Who really would want to buy this stuff? Is Redmond that desperate to beat Google that it would do just about anything to get the Bing name out in front of consumers?

There is such a thing as over-saturation in marketing. It’s probably the most feared event among public relations professionals: where a brand is in front of the consumers face so much that it actually begins to drive them away.

Bing seems awfully close to this. Google did not get to where it is now through a $100 million ad budget: it just worked well for consumers, who gravitated to it naturally. Microsoft seems to think it will just be able to advertise it’s way into contention.

Unfortunately for them the world does not work like that.



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Is Google Terrified of Bing? Naw.

By  |  Posted at 12:56 am on Monday, June 15, 2009

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Google ScreamFEAR GRIPS GOOGLE. It’s a nicely classic New York Post headline for a story about the company’s reaction to the launch of Microsoft’s Bing search engine. The Post’s James Doran says that Google cofounder Sergey Brin is so “rattled” by Bing that he’s personally leading a team of engineers who are working on “urgent” upgrades to Google.

Is there any there there? I’m not saying that the article is sheer fantasy. But the Post story’s suggestion that frenzy has descended on the Googleplex and hasty steps are being taken to stay competitive with Bing doesn’t ring true.

Doran says:

Brin, according to sources inside the tech behemoth, is himself leading the team of search-engine specialists in an effort to determine how Bing’s crucial search algorithm differs from that used by the company he founded in 1998 with Stanford University classmate Larry Page.

I can’t imagine that the question of how Bing’s algorithm differs from Google’s is a subject of high-level speculation and research at Google. For one thing, Bing’s algorithm doesn’t have much to do with why Bing is interesting. It’s the information and tools that the search engine provides in reaction to four types of searches–ones involving health, travel, local information, and shopping–that give it its personality. They don’t relate to its algorithm, and they aren’t particularly mysterious.

Then there’s the notion of Google rushing out new features to respond to Bing. The thing is, Google is in a continuous state of rushing out new features (like, for instance, this one). Every major Google service is in a state of more or less constant reinvention; if Google were indeed throwing together new Bing-killing features in panicky fashion, I’m not sure if we’d be able to tell them from all the other features it’ll roll out over the next few months. And which it would have rolled out even if Bing didn’t exist.

I can believe that Google takes Bing seriously. (It should–this unquestionably Microsoft’s most ambitious and well thought out attempt to take on Google to date.) I can accept the idea that Sergey Brin has taken a particular interest in it. But it would be even sillier for Google to freak out over Bing than it would be for the company to ignore it.



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Bing Share Nominally Better than Windows Live

By  |  Posted at 11:45 am on Thursday, June 11, 2009

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Bing LogoThe tech world was aflutter last week as Bing catapulted itself to #2 among all search engines. That fun lasted one day. Now that things have come back to earth, data from analytics firm StatCounter show that Bing is only performing nominally better than Windows Live did.

Before the switchover to Bing, Windows Live in the last week of May averaged a 5-6% share of the market in the US, save for a one day anomaly on May 29 (it hit 12.81% that day). Bing took over on June 1, and generally experienced a good first week, peaking on the 4th as we had reported.

However, since then it has fallen dramatically, and over the last several days, seem to have found a bottom right around 6-7%. So that’s right, all this Bingmania has resulted in basically a overall gain of a percentage point or two in market share.

To be fair, it seems Bing is starting to make a move up again. However, its clear from these results that a significant portion of the Web surfing public tried and then passed on Bing.

It has to be somewhat disheartening to Microsoft that so far Bing has generally fallen on deaf ears. I bet they’re hoping that the $100 million they’re about to spend on advertising isn’t all for naught.

Point of solace for Microsoft however: it does appear that when Bing does gain, its coming at the expense of Google. You could take that this way — that Google searchers may be considering Bing a worthy alternative.



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