Is Google Terrified of Bing? Naw.

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

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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11 Comments For This Post

  1. optimiseit Says:

    I would say Google will be afraid in fact very afraid, the mighty wrath of Microsoft has a very powerful hand indeed. Look at the consoles wars. Sony v Microsoft Xbox Microsoft won the day..well so far!

    It will be interesting to see the developments of Bing, after all competition is good.

  2. Marc Says:

    Yeah I mean look at Netscape, Palm, Sony and Apple. Google should be worried !

  3. optimiseit Says:

    Yep exactly!!

  4. John Obeto Says:

    They should be afraid.

    My reasons why

  5. tom b Says:

    “Sony v Microsoft Xbox Microsoft won the day..well so far!”

    MSFT has been TROUNCED by the Wii.

    “Yeah I mean look at Netscape, Palm, Sony and Apple. Google should be worried !”

    Netscape had great ideas, to start, but did themselves in through shear stupidity. Netscape lost focus, big-time; Palm split HW and SW.

    Apple is within a factor of two of MSFT, in market cap, in a RECESSION. I’d say THAT game is still being played out.

  6. richardmitnick Says:

    Unless one wants those special services announced for Bing, it does not touch Google: no advanced search, no way to keep out certain works, and no specific domain search.


  7. Jon Says:

    Google have always been afraid of Microsoft, and with good reason. Their control of the PC market, along with their ability and willingness to tie products (the browser to the OS, and then the search engine to the browser) presents an almost insurmountable obstacle to competition. It’s like trying to play football against a team who gets to decide the relative size of the goals.

  8. james brown Says:

    i can't imagine that google isn't taking bing seriously. any corporation worth its weight in outstanding shares has to take competition seriously. or at least study it to see how they're f*cking up.

  9. Jazz By The Bay Says:

    @RichardMitnick: Not sure what you mean by:
    >>and no specific domain search.

    If you mean ability to search a particular domain, Bing has it, and its predecessor Live Search had it as well.


  10. Rob Says:

    I’m sorry, I just kind of have to say “pfft” to all you people who think Google is shaking in its proverbial boots because of Bing.

    I love that Bing has come out. It’s going to allow me to index my products on Bing (I’m a small business owner) in a way that I haven’t been able to in the past. Their Advertisement is likely to be much higher quality.

    But 50% of all searches on the web happen at Google. People are used to using Google, people trust Google, and by the time any significant portion of that would scoot over to Bing instead, Google will easily be able to adapt in order to retain their loyal customers.

    In a world of Google vs Microsoft, I would vote on Google all the way. Google has proven again and again that it trumps the features of Microsoft. Again, I’m really glad for Bing! It’s a significant improvement, and will give Google more of a run for their money. That’s the beautiful nature of capitalism — both Bing and Google will come out as better, stronger companies (and websites), and it’s us (their visitors and advertisers) who benefit.

    Of course Google should be taking Micro seriously, and I’m sure they are. They’re keeping both eyes open, and examining the new pony on the track. But scared? Hardly.

  11. richardmitnick Says:

    Hey Jazz-

    Thanks, I found it; but, you know, drilling has been the reply about Bing for Advanced Search. In Bing, beyond the drilling to a second level, Domains vs included and excluded terms looks like either-or. Even just on terms, it looks like either-or or one at a time.

    I have Google Advanced Search saved as a bookmark(FF)and Favorite(IE) on my Tool Bars. In Google, for me, it is all right there on the opening page.

    BTW, I have 50 gigs of Jazz, mostly Bop, post-Bop on my hard drives.


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