Could Microsoft Soon Give Bing The Axe?

    November 12, 2013
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, who is one of the top candidates in a recently narrowed down list to take over Steve Ballmer’s job as Microsoft CEO, would reportedly consider killing Bing and selling the company’s Xbox business.

Should Microsoft get of rid of Bing? Xbox? Let us know what you think in the comments.

That is according to a new report from Bloomberg, citing people with “knowledge of this thinking.” Elop would reportedly want to narrow this company’s focus, and get rid of distractions. Peter Burrows & Dina Bass report:

Besides emphasizing Office, Elop would be prepared to sell or shut down major businesses to sharpen the company’s focus, the people said. He would consider ending Microsoft’s costly effort to take on Google with its Bing search engine, and would also consider selling healthy businesses such as the Xbox game console if he determined they weren’t critical to the company’s strategy, the people said.

Earlier this week, investors drove Microsoft shares to their highest price since mid-2000, after Nomura Holdings Inc. analyst Rick Sherlund said the sale of Bing and Xbox, along with other moves, could lift fiscal 2015 earnings by 40 percent.

Elop came over to Microsoft when the company announced its intent to buy Nokia’s phones unit a couple months ago. He had worked for Microsoft previously, and his name was already being thrown around a lot as a candidate for Ballmer’s replacement. He stepped aside as Nokia President and CEO to become Nokia Vice President of Devices & Services.

A spokesperson called Bloomberg’s report a “foray into fiction,” but it’s not like even Microsoft’s PR has a window to Elop’s brain. It’s unclear how these people with “knowledge of his thinking” do, but it’s not outside of the realm of possibility that there’s something to the report.

We won’t delve much into the Xbox side of things here (though that’s a interesting story in itself), but everybody knows that Bing has been an incredibly expensive venture for Microsoft, and has made little gain in terms of search market share against Google.

Last month, Microsoft did report 25% growth in its online services division, which includes Bing. The loss fell 12%.

Peter Bright at Ars Technica, who challenges the legitimacy of the Bloomberg report to begin with, writes, “As a standalone business, Bing is heading in the right direction but for the time being, it is still a money pit. Getting rid of it would improve Microsoft’s finances to the tune of about a billion dollars and change each year, something around a five percent improvement in operating income.”

“The problem with this superficial analysis is that Bing isn’t a standalone business,” he adds. “I’m sure Microsoft would be happier if it could stand alone—if nothing else, it would help put an end to the ‘Microsoft should get rid of Bing’ chatter—but there’s more to the value and importance of Bing than just the bottom line.”

He goes on to make the case that Microsoft essentially needs Bing for the data, and for feature integration into its operating systems to compete with Google and Apple. This is certainly a valid point as Android and iOS continue to get smarter.

It’s true that Microsoft needs to have the kind of personal connection to users that Google and Apple (especially Google) are able to get by other means. Search is obviously a major component of such a connection. Social is another, however, and with Bing, Microsoft gets a special window into the Facebook and Twitter realms that Google does not, thanks to the companies’ partnerships (Bing and Twitter just renewed their’s).

And if Microsoft killed Bing, where would that leave Yahoo?

It is worth noting that Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen also reportedly thinks Microsoft should get rid of Xbox and Bing.

What do you think? Is Bing helping or hurting Microsoft? Do you think Microsoft should consider getting rid of it? Let us know in the comments.

Image: Flickr (Wikimedia Commons)

  • Kilgore Trout

    Just bing it.

  • Gin

    Not sure ridding oneself of xbox would be a great idea since there are gamers all over the world. The only thing to really consider would be creating great games and reducing e-waste. People have fun and friendships, on the xbox and depending on the games … it’s the game software that will carry MS through.

    • http://www.flaminghotmedia.com FHM

      I agree with you Gin. The Xbox is no vital part of MS, and getting rid of it would be a very bad idea. If anything they need to develop the platform more, and add to it. They are in a very good place with the Xbox and with millions of users worldwide, this is a direct market form MS to target.

  • http://www.shopandmall.co.za shopping kenya

    Interesting news but it will be good to focus on the what they major in and know about, but again they really have to think about what will give them the edge against Google, bing could be released to yahoo, on sale of course but xbox?

    Not advisable. Its a division that seems to be doing well, why dont they just create and run it as a separate entity as against selling it out right.

    We have heard rumors about Google and apple toying around in the gaming arena.

    Time will really tell. This may not be much of an issue if he does not take over and the new CEO!

  • http://leisurecom.com Shay

    Sell XBox so Google can get seriously into the games sector. 😉

  • https://twitter.com/brickmarketing Nick Stamoulis

    I know it’s mostly a Google world and we all have to live in it, and I personally don’t like Bing that much, but I wouldn’t like to see a search world where Google really is the only player on the block. Even if Bing has a much smaller amount of the search volume it’s still something.

    • MLC

      I agree. I think that having at least two companies providing good searches is important to the market.

    • http://michaeltaylorauthor.com Michael Taylor

      I like Bing. It’s search results are more relevant to the real world than Google’s have become since they started farting about with all their Penguin and Panda idiocy. I live in UK, but half of the organic search results I get from Google refer me to sites in USA which are of utterly no interest – especially for shopping.

  • Eddie

    Killing xbox would be horrible with the next generation console coming out, and add the fact that the way they have updates the dashboard is going great. With all the intergraded features in the Xbox One imagine what they could do with it compared to selling it to another company. My prediction keep Xbox. Selling the Xbox to another company not quite as advance in the xbox as Microsoft is would cause a huge drop in there stock, and if another company couldn’t do to the Xbox one as well as Microsoft has been (let’s say sony for an example) die hard fans of Xbox would drop fast. Thus resulting in the drop in Microsoft’s stocks

  • http://www.androidappsonpc.net/download-whatsapp-for-pc-computer-mac/ Arbaz

    I don’t think that anything would be happening to Bing as according to me it is making some progress in the market share against Google, although not as much as Microsoft might have anticipated.
    Killing it won’t do any good but a new strategy to make it work might still be effective.

  • http://besthomegym.net/ Ogi

    Well, I think that Bing is so deeply integrated into their main products that is unlikely that they will get rid of it any time soon. On the other hand, I’m not sure what will happen once when their deal with Yahoo comes to the end.

    Anyway, I don’t like this guy at all. I believe that he ruined Nokia because of his stubborn idea to stick with the Symbian and Windows OS-es.

  • http://niallflynn.com Niall Flynn

    I think they mean Bing would still exist but not as an MS product, I agree Microsoft need to be less diverse but its very hard to predict the future.

  • http://www.canadawebservices.com/ renu

    I think they should keep both of them and enhance the functionality and usage of those bing and xbox, they must think and work according to the user requirements and what actually user wants!

  • http://e-marketingpartner.com Bob

    I never thought Microsoft could unseat the PlayStation as the dominant console, but they have done so and are dominating the console market with Xbox. Sell Xbox? That would be an insane move. If it’s not already, Xbox is close to being a cash cow just like Windows and Office. All they have to do right now is produce a new model and they sell millions of units.

    Bing is another matter, but I think right now may be a good opportunity. Google’s Hummingbird update is producing some unusual results, some of Bing’s results may actually, for the first time, be better than Google’s. Walking away from Bing after investing this much is probably a mistake.

  • http://www.market-vantage.com Hans Riemer

    I agree with Nick. Bing is the only real competitor to Google search. With Google’s mining of user data and recent withholding of search keywords via “not provided” the world needs more bing, not less.

  • Joe

    I’m not a big fan of Bing but I like that they provide at least some degree of competition to Google. Competition in the search/data world is beneficial to consumers and marketers alike.

  • http://www.vakcin.in Somiran malakar

    Selling Bing will be mistake. Google is becoming a money sucker and people have just started to realize that Microsoft takes money but give privacy a reality service. People just started be concerned and also have started to finger on google’s bad intentions. People need a good alternative to google and that is already proved by BING.

    As an user I started to use BING more and more for privacy corner. I have also changed my email provider to live mail. Bing needs little more time to get the real pace within couple a year.

    • Ed Davis

      Google search result quality has deteriorated, in my opinion. Google likes “brands” and fills its search with directories, “official” and corporate sites.

      I simply wanted some good Chinese food delivered last weekend but could not find telephone numbers for local establishments very easily. I switched to Bing to place the order.

      The “mom and pop” businesses do not have the money for ellaborate SEO that Google requires.

  • Robbie

    This would be a ridiculous proposal.
    Whether Microsoft likes it or not, they simply HAVE to be in the competition when it comes to gaming and search. The notion of giving up either because they can’t easily compete right now would end them in the long run.

    People need to stop thinking of the short-term, and consider the long-term. If he’s really thinking of taking these drastic steps, then he is an extreme short-termist, and shouldn’t be in the position he’s in.

    Bing was created to give them a place in Search, because it is a vital tech business for such a large brand, it has done that. Trying to compete with Google was a mammoth task, but it’s actually done extremely well considering the dominance Google has.

    This suggestion sounds like he’s throwing his toys out of the pram because Bing hasn’t destroyed Google. The whole point of it was to diversify and secure the future in a growing and developing market.

  • http://www.pickmygiftstores.com Rita Perdue

    No, Bing COULD be a viable alternative to Google. We need to have choices. Where Bing made a big mistake was by doing away with Bing SHOPPING! It’s pretty bad that there’s not a real ‘shopping’ site available with ‘unbiased’ listings or ‘unpaid’ listings… bad for shoppers and small businesses alike.

  • http://www.stungunsupply.com Gene

    I’m neutral on Xbox but I hope they keep Bing and improve it even more. Google needs competition and I thought Bing was improving it’s positioning vis-a-vis Google in recent months.

  • http://www.thegroovygroup.org Steve Timmins

    It will be great if Microsoft phased out Bing and sold the Xbox business, so they can concentrate on creating decent computer systems again.

  • lee

    The Xbox is no vital part of MS, and getting rid of it would be a very good idea .Google always thinks you need everything to see the world. what you need is something that works

  • http://www.hiskingdomprophecy.com Angus MacKillop

    Now less than 5.5% of our site referrals, Bing is becoming less and less relevant month by month.
    As Google Analytics seems to keep forging forward with new things, Bing Webmaster Tools just seems to sit there… looking already developmentally abandoned.

  • From_Moscow

    It would be just silly to kill Bing – now that it successfully competes with Yandex, not to mention Mail.ru, Google and other less popular search engines.

    Personally, I do all my English (and other foreign languages) searching in Bing, and use Yandex only for searches in Russian (I must admit, Bing doesn’t parse Russian grammar as good as Yandex yet).

    In my experience, Bing is the most convenient and user-friendly search engine ever.

  • http://come2india.org Lewis

    Good Grief ! There was a time Microsoft was interested in buying out Google and now they want to sell – the only competition to Google ?

    The way Bing is shaping up now it provides better search quality than Google. Seriously after all the algo changes Google regularly parades every few months, it is becoming frustrating to find what you are looking. Bing/Yahoo – though slow in crawling new pages, provide a decent alternative to the constantly changing search results pages of Google.

  • http://www.seofreelance.es Ricard Menor

    Looking at the forest rather than nearby trees looks like Microsoft is giving up forecoming Internet business, let SaaS and other stuf alike apart, Xbox is a popular, massive door to surfing the Web from sofa and Bing is a necessary driver for this experience, if they quit Bing effort they will be out of WWW. Further more: what does this mean for Yahoo Search and Yahoo! globally?

  • Robert

    MS should put much more effort to get Bing over terrible Google. Google SE is great evil for all internet folks and should be rejected by common people on the Net. Unfortunately, at the Time, there is no many competitors close to Google, so only Bing could become such replacement if Bing’s Heads decide to do so.

  • http://melchinger.com John Melchinger, ETR

    There is more to life than increasing its speed or counting money. With USPS losses and now their negotiating with Amazon for Sunday delivery as example, innovations in business thinking delve far beyond old fashioned dollars and sense. Bing offers choice and visual beauty that Google does not. Google owns contemporary data that Bing does not yet make work. I prefer Bing for search, hands down. If there is a “1984 Big Brother” Google is it. Google just shamefully joined ALEC. This is the nucleus of thought that makes me think Bing should stay to compete with Google. But my thought is political and psychological, but data and dollars will probably sway decisions towards Big Brother. This retrograde “progress” depresses me.

  • http://www.promodrone.com/ Lee Davis

    What is this with the fascination with these multi-billion dollar corporate computing elites? They don’t give two shakes of a rat’s tail about you or anyone you care about. While they decry about a five-percent increase in revenues, all that money is busy being hoovered from YOUR wallets. And all you get for it are a crappy search engine, and one of the most expensive, easily-breakable video game units ever (apparently, breaks on its’ own, for no reason). Why do you think it is that they spend so much money on advertising?! Because they have to rook some poor suckers into being the dump-pot for their electronic silliness. Brick-and-mortar companies don’t all have resources like this, so the better-performing of businesses realize that they have to bring more to the table than just their product lines. You would better be served by investing time into helping fledgling Open-Source tech companies that actually provide the bang for your buck. Pathetic….

  • John

    Getting rid of Bing and / or Xbox is a very bad move for Microsoft and its future.
    Let a person who knows and love games handle the Xbox business and do the very same for Bing, and watch them both grow and flourish even more.

  • http://www.thisworks.co.uk Chris Stephens

    Competition in search is absolutely vital, and never more so than now.

    Google is gradually throttling off and neutralizing the capabilities of SEO with its volte-face strategy of denuding back links and consecutive algorithm dances.

    Thanks to Google, and its rabid greed for profits,the web is becoming less and less democratic.

    The really sad thing is, if Microsoft cannot even compete (forget win)with Google for search, what hope is there?

    Google is fast becoming the modern ‘evil empire’ and boy oh boy do we need a Luke Skywalker.

  • GalaxyMinstrel

    Another of those moron posts. Why would Microsoft get rid of Bing in the year before the page rank algorithm patent ends. The algorithm gives Google an advantage, an advantage it is struggling to replace (with email scanning, advert monitoring, cookie tracking) to maintain an edge next year.

    Microsoft should not focus only on what it knows. However it should not focus on what it is not good at. It saw tablets a long, long time before anyone else (Gates was demoing devices in the 1990’s) and was active in mobile telephony from even earlier. The problem was senior managers were discouraged by the lack of interest and instead of pursuing these ideas, gave up. Then looked like out of touch fools.

    Microsoft is not retailer. It does not connect with end-users (I mean regular, none computing people) so cannot push retail products like tablets and phones. Well, that’s OK. There’s much more to the world than tablets and phones. True they are profitable now, but so were PCs and laptops in their day. Then the fad changes and all of a sudden there are previously profitable business making losses (HP, Lenovo, DELL, etc). The world will fill up with phones and tablets just as it filled up with PCs. Or something different will come along that the money men thick they can clean up with.

    I know Ballmer has said he is leaving but the company is not about to hire a new CEO that is going to flush everything (or much at all) down the loo.

  • SR

    I don’t know about xbox because I never used it. But, Bing… it’s much better than it was before and I would hate the idea of Bing changing hands (or gettng dumped). We need an entity with resources like MS to balance the SE world vis-a-vis “big brother” Google.

  • a

    Yes they should get rid of Bing it will never match google and the Xbox sell it to a strong gaming corp financially stable company like Electronics Art or Activition

  • ashutosh

    Bing is good search engine and provides good search result………it should remain in market……i hope it will grow against Google