Could Bing Snowball Into Google’s Territory?

    June 18, 2009
    Chris Crum

Google wants to make sure you don’t forget about Google like you forgot about Dre. With Bing, Microsoft has created the most buzz the company has ever seen in the search industry, and it is spending a large (and well-publicized) sum of money to make sure people know about this one. Are you already using Bing regularly? Do you prefer it to Google?

Live Search never quite caught on like the company had hoped, but this time Microsoft has come out swinging. You’ve probably seen some of the ads (like the one below). They don’t come right out and bash Google by name, but everybody knows what they’re talking about.

Google hasn’t had that branding problem that Microsoft has historically struggled with since it entered the search game. But there might even be more people aware of Bing now than were ever aware of Live Search. Why not? Bing is on their TVs. Watch your video online? It’s there too. Bing is in the house. The problem for Bing is that Google never left the house, and Google is now reminding everybody that they are in full effect.

The search engine has added a new link to its home page that simply says, "Discovering the web."

Google - Discover the Web

Clicking on this link takes you to a page that highlights some of the special searches you can perform on Google to get your answers right in the results. These include:

Movie times
Fill in the blank
Public Data
Local businesses
Sports scores
Package tracking
Unit conversion
Flight tracker
Stock quotes
Currency conversion
Area codes

Specifically, the page says: "Search is at the heart of everything we do at Google. Our engineers work every day to solve the hardest search problems, and thus improve your online experience. Here’s a glimpse at what they do, the features they’ve built and the remarkable user stories that inspire our work."

Google shares a fifteen-second video clip demonstrating each of the topics listed above. Here’s the one for the flight tracker:

Let’s compare some Google and Bing features starting with a few of the ones Google is highlighting…


Both gave me similar results, but Google gave them to me for Lexington, where I live, and Bing gave them to me for Roachdale, Indiana, where I’ve never been. Bing did give the option to change my location, and when I did that, the actual forecasts were somewhat different. I guess I’ll have to wait and see how the next few days pan out before I can make a call on which one of those was better. Weather’s a pretty iffy subject anyway. How often does your local meteorologist get it right? (Update: After I wrote this article it rained heavily. Bing called for haze, Google was more accurate.)

Google weather


Bing weather

Bing weather

Movie times

Again, both Bing and Google give very similar top results. They both show movie listings for my hometown, and both show star ratings by the movies. Bing shows a few more listings on the page, Google shows links to reviews/trailers and Bing does not. Neither one shows actual times on the page, so I’m going to have to click through on a result to get what I’m looking for regardless.


In the dictionary category, I have to give the edge to Google. If you search for "dictionary" on either, you will get a search box you can use to look up a word. I have long used the search operator "define:" on Google, and it has always worked very well. It provides a list of definitions. The same query on Bing brings up a regular results page reminding me of the very pages they are mocking in their own commercials. Here’s the result I got for "define:audio" on Bing:

Define audio on Bing


Both seem to work pretty much the same here. Enter your mathematical problem, and it gives you the answer, just as a calculator would.

Package Tracking

Again, both seem to deliver essentially the same top result – a link for tracking the package based on the number you enter.


Travel is supposed to be one of Bing’s strong points, and with the launch of Bing Travel, Bing may have the upper hand here, but you can get flight tracking info from either search engine. Bing Travel really seems to compete more with sites like Expedia and Travelocity, which are well-branded and established travel sites, but as far as the battle between Google and Bing goes, I have to give this one to Bing.

Bing Travel

Real-Time Search

Here’s one comparison of real-time search results on Bing and Google. Neither search engine is known for these kind of results… yet. As WebProNews noted this week, Alex Chitu discovered a statement hidden away on a Google site that read, "This is the MicroBlogsearch Universal result group header text.  A Microblog is a blog with very short entries.  Twitter is the popular service associated with this format." This indicates that Google appears to be working on real-time search. I would be very surprised if Microsoft’s Bing Team were not up to something in this area as well. Frankly, they have to be.

The amount of attention Bing is getting should simply highlight the fact that there is search beyond Google. It’s possible this increased exposure to search could generate interest in other search engines as well. For example, some people might say to themselves, "Well, I’ve been using Google for all this time, and now I’m messing around with Bing. Boy, it’s sure been a long time since I searched with Yahoo. I wonder what they’re up to these days…"

But the question is, should Google worry about Bing? They certainly shouldn’t ignore it, and as the new "discovering the web" link on seems to indicate, Google is not. Considering all of the other Google services users are already involved with from Gmail to Google Reader to Google Earth … that Google search box is never too far away!

If the Bing snowball effect really got started, Google would have a real competitor with deep pockets. A lot of what Microsoft has lacked in the past (with regards to search) has been having a brand everybody knew. They are on the right track with Bing. Spending big money in marketing seems to be helping Bing gain traction. I would imagine Google is willing to do the same should they ever have to. Right now, the company is still resting  comfortably in the lead in terms of search market share, but Bing is making early in-roads.

Does Bing offer enough to drive people away from Google? Will it in the future?

Google has had so many users for so long, it’s probably going to take some major screw-up(s) to drive them away. I think most Google users are generally content with their results and have been for some time. Really, how often do you have to navigate past the first page of results to find what you are looking for?

Are you using Bing as your regular search engine? If so, have you left Google behind to do so? We want to hear about it.