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Microsoft

Microsoft Betting on Bing for Mobile Search 204

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the htdig-is-enough-for-anyone dept.
msmoriarty writes "Bing is a still a money loser for Microsoft, and the calls for the company to sell it off are growing. But according to long-time Microsoft watcher Mary-Jo Foley, dumping Bing is just not going to happen. 'While the world sees Bing as a distant No. 2 search engine, Microsoft brass and bean counters see Bing as a reusable component and asset that will be built into more and more products. Those who think Microsoft will discard Bing or sell it to the highest bidder are dead wrong — that won't happen now or any time soon.'"
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Microsoft Betting on Bing for Mobile Search

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  • by hardtofindanick (1105361) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @01:37PM (#36886798)
    I don't really understand why owning 27% of the search market is being shown as a failure. It may be below expectations, but it is still considerable. The search results are more decent then ever and at least google felt threatened enough to honeypot it. BTW I still use Google.
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @01:52PM (#36886974) Journal
      It's the "losing money" part that shareholders tend not to like... Market share certainly has its uses; but it isn't an end in itself. Some investors are more patient than others; but sooner or later they will demand that either the division stop losing money, demonstrate how its utility to other divisions that aren't losing money makes up for its costs, or be scrapped.

      If anything, the fact that Microsoft is the #2 search player, commands almost a third of the market, and still isn't making money at it probably makes people more nervous about them. Losing money temporarily in order to gain enough marketshare for some sort of economies of scale/mindshare breakthrough/whatever pixie dust is floating around is practically a comforting tradition for tech market types. Being an established player and still dragging out each year in the red just makes you unpopular...
      • by m2vq (2417438) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @01:55PM (#36887018)
        What I found stupid about the whole thing was the sentence

        While the world sees Bing as a distant No. 2 search engine

        Yeah yeah, slashdot has the FAQ point about it being US-centric site. But including the word "world"? That maybe true for US, but it varies by country. For example Yandex is the largest search engine in Russia and Baidu is in China, and they both lead Google by miles.

        • Yeah yeah, slashdot has the FAQ point about it being US-centric site. But including the word "world"? That maybe true for US, but it varies by country. For example Yandex is the largest search engine in Russia and Baidu is in China, and they both lead Google by miles.

          Is that lead measured in number of users or revenue? In business, the latter is usually seen as more important.

          • by orasio (188021)

            How do you measure revenue? In US dollars?
            In US business, US dollars are important.
            For a Chinese business, chinese eyeballs might be more important than US dollars, strategically.

          • If it's revenue, then Yahoo would be the second in the US... they're actually profitable.

            That said, I'm surprised it isn't Yahoo in the first place. When I think of search engines that get used to actually find stuff in North America, Google is first, Yahoo is second....

        • by Lehk228 (705449)
          they still see bing as a "number two"
      • That combined with almost many of the products that MS has launched in the last decade under Ballmer haven't been very profitable makes investors unhappy. With the exception of Office and OS, they haven't made a lot of money elsewhere. Xbox is finally turning a profit these days but still in the red overall. It is understandable that after 10 years, investors want MS to focus on launching products that produce profits.
        • by exomondo (1725132)

          That combined with almost many of the products that MS has launched in the last decade under Ballmer haven't been very profitable makes investors unhappy.

          I don't think investors are going to be unhappy with MS given they have just release record-breaking financial numbers even with the current economic crisis.

          With the exception of Office and OS, they haven't made a lot of money elsewhere.

          Kinect has done very well.

          • I don't think investors are going to be unhappy with MS given they have just release record-breaking financial numbers even with the current economic crisis.

            And yet in 10 years under Ballmer the stock price which investors care about has barely moved. Also if you actually read the quarterly reports, it reiterated what I said in the next line, only Office, Windows, and Xbox makes profit. No other product divisions make money.

            Kinect has done very well.

            Kinect has sold a lot of units however MS only made $32M in profit last quarter in the XBox division so selling a lot of Kinect units hasn't translated into a lot of profits. That's not a typo. $32M.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Hope Thelps (322083)

      I don't really understand why owning 27% of the search market is being shown as a failure.

      Perhaps because they don't [hitslink.com] "own" 27% of the search market, or anywhere close to it?

      Google has 83.62%, Yahoo 6.21% (not "owned" by Microsoft but I suppose you could see it as rented) and Bing 3.57%.

      They may have a larger share local to you but that isn't enough to avoid losing billions of dollars on an ongoing basis. To get anywhere close to Google's market share (and thus hopefully reduce their losses) would take massive gains over what they have now.

    • Because the one-time income generated by a sale could generate more dividends for shareholders than keeping Bing for the next quarter. After all, the only metric that matters is the profit generated next quarter. Quick, MSFT! Sell your XBox division! It's been a net loss so far, too.

      For the sarcasm impaired: the above was sarcasm. Please refrain from pointing out the idiocy of the advocated actions, as that is implied.

    • If you've thrown as much money as Microsoft has over the last fifteen years to try to buy itself the predominant web portal, I'd say that if all it bought you was 27% to 30%, with no real likelihood that you'll ever get an even split, I'd call it an abject failure.

    • In the end market share means little for the company, and it hurts. Bing is bleeding money, from top to bottom they are pooring more and more into it, spending massive money on advertisements, bundling deals etc... development, and at the end of the day what they have using their service just isn't paying the bills. Just a hypothetical scenerio, lets say out of the blue microsoft instantly and magically came up with a technology or push that all of a sudden 75% of the US was using bing, but the cost to run
      • I don't think you grasp the way the money works... Google makes most of its money off advertising. Part of the reason it's able to make so much on advertising is because they have such a large share of the market. If their market share dropped, their advertising revenues would drop significantly as well.

        Also, I don't think you understand how the scalability of something like a search portal works. Compared against the advertising revenue increase that they could get by increasing their market share, their m

    • by Dunbal (464142) *

      I don't really understand why owning 27% of the search market is being shown as a failure.

      Success, failure - these are highly subjective terms. If Microsoft set itself the goal of being the #1 search engine by now then yeah, they have failed. If they wanted over a quarter of the market, then they have succeeded. However a pretty objective measure of failure is the fact that they are not making money with this project, regardless of what their "share" is.

      • At one point, MS may have wanted Bing to be a successful division in its own right, but at this point, all they want is to blunt Google's success enough that Chrome and Google Docs won't eat into the Windows/Office cash cows.

    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      because the composition of that 27% fall into three categories (people who do not care / know better, employees of companies with IT policies set to prevent changing the default search, and microsoft employees who do not wish to get in trouble for using google at work
    • "I still use Google."

      Of course you do.

      Bing
      Is
      Not
      Google

  • by PickyH3D (680158) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @01:38PM (#36886812)

    What incentive does Microsoft have to ceding search (and search related ads) to Google? It has nearly 30% US marketshare and it's growing [pcmag.com] (combined with Yahoo, which uses Bing for its backend).

    When Bing first launched, Bing scared Google [cnet.com] and forced them to start innovating again. Competition is good after all. Even if Bing dies off, I see no advantage, as a consumer, to have Bing disappear. I also see no advantage, for (not as) an investor to cede that entire domain to one of their two biggest competitors. Throw away the entire investment that has signs of paying off in the future, and give a major investor even more money to play with to cut into your market? That's really the best idea?

    Having some competition certainly helps spur production and innovation. After all, Windows Vista took so long because they had no serious competition until OS X started seriously stealing the spotlight. Apple gave them a good reason to produce faster, and at a higher quality (Windows 7).

    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @02:28PM (#36887388) Journal

      Vista took so long because they had to keep turfing Longhorn functionality because all those teams had produced virtually nothing that was ready for market. Vista was about as much evidence as anyone needed that Microsoft had lost its edge. Even now, Windows XP is still newer versions of Windows worst competition.

      As to Bing, Microsoft has thrown so much money at it and basically bought the penetration they would have gotten if they had just left up msn.com or live.com as the default page. It has been an extraordinary waste of money, costing well in excess of the vast and largely pointless investment in building THE web portal that Microsoft has been trying since Windows 95.

      Bing's big victory so far? Why, Yahoo, as it sinks into the forgettable soup of yesterday's companies, started using it as its engine.

    • After all, Windows Vista took so long because they had no serious competition until OS X started seriously stealing the spotlight. Apple gave them a good reason to produce faster, and at a higher quality (Windows 7).

      That's not how I remember it. Vista took so long because it was badly managed. Now you could say the goals of Vista were too lofty and unreachable as well. The only factor OS X had was that it embarrassed the hell out of MS that Apple at a fraction of their size and once considered to be dying was able to release new versions every 2 years or so while changing the hardware architecture twice.

      • by PickyH3D (680158)

        That's not how I remember it. Vista took so long because it was badly managed. Now you could say the goals of Vista were too lofty and unreachable as well.

        But you don't think the two issues are related?

        After XP, without competition, Microsoft had no reason to spend a ton of money and quickly release a new version. They had too much time to sit back and collect their money while developing Vista at an exceptionally slow and mismanaged pace because there was nothing breathing down their necks. Once competitio

        • by tuffy (10202)

          At the time, the embarrassment to Microsoft was both deserved and damning. The somewhat sad thing is that I see Apple falling into the exact same position as Microsoft following XP, as Microsoft readies Windows 8, and with Apple having just released Lion, which offers only a few features of merit (Mission Control being the top pick even though it's just an improved version of existing features).

          The problem Microsoft has with XP is that by letting it sit and fester for so long, it became very entrenched.

    • by Animats (122034)

      Bing's market share isn't all that bad, for only two years into the market. Microsoft has lost money entering a market before; the original XBox was a money drain from start to finish. A decade later, Sega is out of consoles, Sony is in trouble, and Microsoft is finally #1 in console sales, having passed Nintendo this year. Microsoft is finally profitable in games, although it's not clear if they've made up all the early losses yet.

      Microsoft's online services division is losing about US$2bn a year, but t

      • by IICV (652597)

        A decade later, Sega is out of consoles, Sony is in trouble, and Microsoft is finally #1 in console sales, having passed Nintendo this year.

        They might be #1 in sales, but that's only because everyone who's ever entertained more than a passing desire for a Wii has one already. And I bet you anything that this is Xbox 360 sales including things like the current promotion where if you get a Windows computer worth at least $700 you get a "free" Xbox - something Nintnedo never did.

        I'm on my phone right now so I

      • by afidel (530433)
        Huh, Wii has sold 80M units worldwide, XBOX 360 55M, and PS3 50M. How is MS #1?
    • I'm confused. The link you provided (pcmag) lists 14.4% marketshare for Bing in the United States according to one stat service, and 14.64% in the United States according to a completely different service.

      I don't see how you could get 30% from that unless you added the two together - that means if you find another two or 3 stat services you could get 110%. Whoopee! :)

      In fact, seems that Bing as at 14-15% in the US - and this despite massive ad campaigns on all media, and setting it as the default browser i

    • No one's mentioned this so far, so I'll provide this hilarious youtube link to an ad that's purportedly for Bing but slyly hypes Google everywhere.:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYVCk10AzS0 [youtube.com]

      My favourite quote: "So, just google it with Bing. That's 'G-O-O-G-L-E' it with Bing."

  • Sad that Google has all the data that maps from keyword searches to clicked links that make Google far better than any search engine that is less used. This is the lifeblood of any search engine. Thinking of which, doesn't that data actually belong to all us who generate it? Maybe the DoJ should get involved and get Google to reveal this data to other search engines before Google becomes an abusing monopoly(if it hasn't already happened, see lawsuits). Bing got panned on here and elsewhere for trying to get

    • by Fantom42 (174630)

      Why does that data belong to you, or anyone who generated it? You aren't the ones that paid to collected, index, and stored this information. The information belongs to Google.

      • This is kind of similar to the Office file formats. MS paid millions or tens of millions of dollars to design, develop those but was still forced to open them up to competitors by the EU courts because of public interest. An analog in the real word is eminent domain in the US etc. And Google can still charge competitors the cost incurred to transfer the data i.e bandwidth, labor etc.

        Also, another analogue is telephone directory, it was ruled that the data belongs to the public and thus can be copied even if

        • by Dog-Cow (21281)

          It's nothing at all like Office file formats.

          And data is not copyrightable, which is why the data in the phone book is (legally) copyable. It is true that the data Google collects is also not copyrightable, but that doesn't mean Google has to give it to anyone. (The phone book is distributed to subscribers.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by orient (535927)
      Feel free to give your data to Bing, by searching with Bing.
  • by AddisonW (2318666) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @01:40PM (#36886840)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/25/business/bing-becomes-a-costly-distraction-for-microsoft-breakingviews.html [nytimes.com]

    I don't know how anyone could possibly suggest anyone would ever dream of wanting to buy Microsoft's failed search engine.

    • by blair1q (305137)

      How do you lose $2.6 billion on a web-crawler?

      Did they try to replicate Google all at once?

    • I feel this view is very myopic. Obviously a product has more worth than the exactly dollar value it brings into the company. Bing is obviously core to Microsoft's overall strategy, and it has the potential to generate incredible revenue in the future. They could be very willing to nurse it through infancy and incur years of losses. Other companies who might purchase it potentially do not have the cash hoard to do this. The author mentions Facebook as a potential buyer. Does he seriously think Facebook has

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      How much of those costs are amortizing NRE expenses? It's hard to imagine that they're spending billions on server maintenance.

    • Apple might even be interested, given its growing online ambitions, evidenced by its consideration of a bid for Hulu.

      And with quotes like that you really have to question the author's credibility.

      Apple has growing *media* ambitions as evidenced by its bid for hulu. Apple is the ipod company. Of course they would bid on a streaming media company.

  • I've tried Bing again and again hoping that it would replace Google for me. I keep wishing that someone, even if it's evil MS, will provide some serious competition in the search market. I'll keep trying Bing every year and probably keep going back to Google. Let's hope they really decide to up the ante and do something completely new and original. It's uncharacteristic of MS, but maybe they'll acquire a start-up that has something new?
  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @01:51PM (#36886958)

    Microsoft brass and bean counters see Bing as a reusable component and asset that will be built into more and more products. Those who think Microsoft will discard Bing or sell it to the highest bidder are dead wrong â" that won't happen now or any time soon.'"

    This is the sort of reasoning that led me to sell all of my Microsoft stock years ago. Glad to see that I made the correct decision. Clearly none of the brass and bean counters have ever pruned a tree.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @01:53PM (#36886988)

    I worked in Bing for a several years as an SDE until leaving recently. The Online Services Division in which Bing resides is losing money at an alarming rate. In the last fiscal year ending June 2011, OSD lost $2.5 billion [techcrunch.com].

    Why is Microsoft in this space? I heard it from Bill Gates himself at a team function last year. If Microsoft does not put up a fight in online search, Google will continue to encroach on Microsoft's cashcows, Windows and Office, with their product offerings. I don't think anyone in Microsoft really is driven to make an honest-to-goodness better search experience; Bing is just Microsoft's 70%-Achieved beachhead in online search just to keep Google honest.

  • I never use Bing, except that ever since GOOG 411 was decommissioned, I have been "using" BING 411. And I can say it is also about 14% as good as GOOG 411. It is really a shame that GOOG 411 was shutdown because it was really great. BING 411 is a pale, pale imitation that about 70-86% of the time is near useless, it returns wrong results, it doesn't understand what is being asked, the UI is crap, getting into virtual endless loops of user frustration, etc.

  • Bing just isn't very good compared to Google. I find that Google consistently gives me better search results that more relevant to what I want. For example I have been looking up NFL free agency rumors today, Google gives me current results on new articles, Bing is giving me articles from last years free agency and highlight videos. I find that Bing also puts the advertisements more in the middle of they screen and in my face, while Google's are off to the side.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MightyMartian (840721)

      Look, the reason that Bing has as big a market share as it does is because new Windows installs still default to it, or to one of Microsoft's older offerings which in turn forward to Bing. Microsoft's secret to 30% success is basically people too lazy to go through Microsoft's absurdly complicated switch search engine functionality for the search bar. A lot of people just stick with MSN as their home page. So their market penetration has more to do with the remnants of fifteen years worth of Windows pene

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      I've found that Bing usually gives me better results than Google. Also, I don't know what Bing you're using, but the Bing I use has ads on the side, not in the middle.

      And on top of that, searching for "NFL Free Agency" on Bing right now has the top 8 results all from the past 24 hours, followed by the Wikipedia article explaining what a "Free Agent" is. I suspect that you're just inventing reasons to hate on Microsoft's product.

      • by gubers33 (1302099)
        I don't need to invent reasons to hate Microsoft products. If I wanted to do that I would just use a single word Vista. That being said I think Windows 7 is a great product. And yes most of the ads are on the side, but you occasionally get on in the middle that is related to your search. I didn't say it sucks and gives you outdated results, but Google gives news articles, rumor sites, blogs and so on. I don't get all that with Bing, thus I perfer using Google. And I am not a Microsoft Hater, I have two comp
        • by Rockoon (1252108)

          I don't need to invent reasons to hate Microsoft products.

          The parent claims that you did invent reasons to hate Bing, not that you "needed" to.

          ..and after checking up on his claims, it seems that he is right. You did invent a reason to hate Bing. What you claimed simply isnt true for the majority of people, and only actually seems to be true for you.

          When I search for "nfl free agency" on Bing I get exactly what he said I would get, which is not at all what you said I would get. You made it up.

          Now, I believe you when you say that you do not "need" to invent

  • Change. The. Name. (Score:4, Informative)

    by blair1q (305137) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @02:09PM (#36887178) Journal

    If anything makes me have no respect for Microsoft's search engine, it's the embarassingly stupid name they've given it.

    "Google" is fun. "Bing" is childish. And tying it to a trademarked sound is just brand-development masturbation right in the face of your potential customers.

    Quit it.

    • by nukenerd (172703)
      Agreed. It reminds me of Bing Crosby, a cheesy, corny, Brylcreemed 1940's song-and-dance guy with a joke face and ears like jug handles. Yeuck!
  • by Culture20 (968837) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @02:09PM (#36887180)
    I totally forgot that it existed. Maybe they should spend some more money on advertising.
  • While the world sees Bing as a distant No. 2 search engine

    This is Slashdot, where curse words in posts and comments are allowed. So, it's perfectly OK to say "Bing...shit search engine"

  • Bada Bing! -- bad connotations. I'm sure the Crosby family would agree. They shoulda called it 'Bling' 'cause it's got so much glitter. That's also why it loads so slooooow. It almost seems like you should hafta pay for it and then feel like ya didn't get yer money's worth, ya kno? Ain't prayin', just sayin'.
  • I'd be curious to find out what Microsoft's initial goals were. Surely the bean counters did not expect breaking Google's stronghold on search would take a mere two years? In most tech markets, a ton of competitors show up, duke it out, and one of them eventually emerges as the clear winner and we all go home. Any companies that show up after that have to either sell niche products or EXTEND the market in some way. It looks like MS tends to take an unusual strategy here on many products, not just Bing. Bin
  • Towards the end of last year I bought a Samsung Fascinate on Verizon. It only had the Bing search widget, no Google search widget, even though it's an Android phone. There were plenty of ways to work around that problem (yes, Bing was a problem for me, no matter what MS do their search engines consistently fail to provide me with relevant results, maybe I'm just difficult) like simply adding google.com as a bookmark in the browser. Couple of extra taps but not impossible.

    Around the same time a number
  • by Tom (822) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @05:10PM (#36888864) Homepage Journal

    We've seen this pattern before. Repeatedly. MS greates strength and greatest weakness at the same time is their ability and will to stay beyond losses that would've ruined most smaller companies.

    Sometimes, this staying power makes them pull through in the end. Sometimes, it means they just burn even more money.

    It's the typical MS way. No, they won't sell Bing. They will hang on to it until it either turns a profit, or is so dead that not even the braindead who fall for 419 scams would buy it anymore. Then they will kill it silently, when the press is looking the other way. They don't like to admit failure.

  • IANAL or economist, but if MS is deliberately losing billions in online search and advertising solely so that they can deprive google of revenue in that industry, isn't that illegal? Dumping or bundling or something like that? I know that it's expected that a new business will lose money for years while trying to establish themselves, but if an already-established company dips into the war chest that they've amassed in one industry in order to stomp into an unrelated industry, that doesn't seem right.

    In t

  • ... and it still sucks at that, though marginally less so than Google.

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