Kumo? C’mon, Microsoft!

By  |  Monday, November 24, 2008 at 3:36 am

I don’t think this is even a rumor yet so much as a random shard of speculation, but it’s all over the Web: Folks are wondering whether Microsoft is planning to rebrand Live Search, its confusingly-named search engine, as Kumo, a moniker it apparently controls.

I’m usually a skeptic when it comes to attempts to improve something’s chances of success by changing its name–especially when that something is owned by Microsoft, a company with a long history of replacing one clunky name with another when the real problem is that the product needs work. In this case, though, I wouldn’t argue the point–the search engine’s name is such a failure on so many levels that starting over again might make sense.

(Side note: I’m trying to remember whether the full name of the engine is “Windows Live Search”–it’s not a great sign when it’s hard to even recall a service’s name–but I can’t check right now. I’m still in Beijing, at the airport, and China, or at least the Wi-Fi network here, won’t let me get to live.com.)

Kumo apparently means “spider” or “cloud” in Japanese. (That’s according to the current scuttlebutt, and I’m not sure whether it has two meanings or nobody’s sure what the meaning is–and Google Translate doesn’t know it.) If so, it’s not without logic, but I hope the speculation is wrong. It’s a pretty lifeless name.

LiveSide, which set off the current round of Kumowatching, brings up an important point: There’s a pretty good name for a search site that Microsoft might be able to acquire if wanted to. That name would be Yahoo…



8 Comments For This Post

  1. Jana Eggers Says:

    The more things change, the more they stay the same? Lycos was named after the scientific name for the wolf spider, excellent hunters that catch their prey by running after it instead of catching it in a web.

  2. Paul Greatbatch Says:

    Attempting to make a verb out of search like Google.

    “I don’t know. Let me Kumo that.”

  3. Alexander Schek Says:

    I also don’t like name changes, but do remember when Nintendo started marketing his (now known) Wii video console. The original name was “Nintendo Revolution” and when they decided to change it to “Wii” everybody was upset for that stupid name… Now, 2 years later, “Wii” is part of our vocabulary… Marketing, Marketing, Marketing.

  4. David Worthington Says:

    If the search results remain inferior to Google, no one will use it no matter what they decide to call it.

  5. sun shine Says:

    Kumo is not my favorite word, but it blows away whatever the current name is. Why not Miso? =}~

  6. Constable Odo Says:

    Kumo for cloud has one kanji character (雲) and kumo for spider uses two characters(蜘蛛). I think that the spider kumo would be more approriate for the internet search as spiders use webs to trap, whether it’s food or information.

    It’s better for MS to call it’s search engine kumo than baka or aho.

  7. Tedious Says:

    The fact that it means both spider and cloud are good marketing angles, and its relative rarity makes it good brand fodder.

    The “Windows” and “Microsoft” brands are tainted. Besides…Kumo (as in Kumo Search, Kumo Apps, Kumo Mail, Kumo Games…) doesn’t sound any worse than “Yahoo” or “Google” if you really think about it.

    A new name allows a product to succeed on its own merits or fail from its own flaws.

    I just hope Microsoft gets a new CEO. Steve has costed on the inertia of Bill’s leadership too long. It’s time to get a product manager and coder to run the company instead of a sweaty rah-rah salesman that caves to chip suppliers.

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2 Trackbacks For This Post

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