EJM Designs Limited Blog

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Reasons Bing Will not Dominate Google

Bing Logo

It looks like Bing is here to stay. For those of you that have somehow made it to this blog post without encountering Bing online or through the media blitz, Bing is Microsoft's new pet search engine - I'm sorry; they call it a decision engine. They also call it a Google Killer.

And while I have been tweaking this post for a few days now, and today a deal was sealed between Yahoo and Microsoft, I believe the argument still stands. Here are a couple reasons that Bing/Yahoo will not overrun Google.

The Raw Numbers
The last Neilsen Online numbers for search engine usage (May 2009), Google was over 63%. Yahoo and MSN/Live together were less than 27%. And while Google and Yahoo (and even AOL and Ask) total users had increased from last year, MSN dropped by almost 15%.

We all know Google. The simplicity of its home page is a beautiful thing and a psychological comfort to many of us. People are creatures of habit and while novelty may lead some to seek out Bing, most will go back to what they're used to.

Mystery Meat Home Page

Bing Screenshot

What the hell?

One of the reasons that Google is successful is the simplicity of it: one box, two buttons. The Bing home page is variable. There is an image of some sort littered with invisible boxes with information mildly relevant to the image. (note the one on the American Flag in the image above.)

This is mystery meat in the worst way: not only do you have to mouse over the boxes to see information that may or may not relate to the piece of the picture you are mousing over, you actually have to hunt for the boxes because they do not appear until you mouse over (or near) them.

Why is this bad? A large part of good design is abundant clarity that allows visitors to intuitively navigate to or use your page to gain the information they are looking for. Without distraction. On the contrary, Microsoft is employing design elements that are tried and true examples of worst practice.

Microsoft's MSN/Live Debacle History
First it was MSN. Then it was Live, but MSN was still there, bumming around with its hands in its pockets. Then MSN was still there but running the Live engine. And now it's calling itself Bing. Oh, MSN is still there, just running the Bing engine. And Live is still there linking you to Hotmail and Spaces (hehe, yes the MySpace wannabe is still extant).

Microsoft is already a target for being The Evil Empire. Toss in a history of confusion and failure as the basis of continuing confusion in branding and that's just untrustworthy business.

I'm guessing Bing will be around for a while - at least until MS takes a different tack. And I will work with it as a web developer because that's just good business practice. But even with this new Yahoo/Microsoft marriage of internet nobility, they are going to have a hard time getting their numbers to stabilize, let alone rise, let alone creep up on Google as a search engine.

But there's also that: Bing will always be the #1 decision engine.

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