At E3, Microsoft announced, among other things, that Internet Explorer is coming to the Xbox 360 this fall. That means that tons of Xbox users will have easy access to browsing the entire web right from their favorite gaming console. It also means that Microsoft will have an opportunity to significantly increase searches on Bing.
Do you think this will get more people searching with Bing? Let us know in the comments.
Granted, there is a paywall element at play. Microsoft will require users to have an Xbox Live Gold account to use IE. Still, it's a chance for the company to push its browser, and perhaps its search engine in front of a hard core (as well as casual) gaming base more than ever.
Last year, Bing came to the console in very limited fashion. Microsoft launched Bing Voice Search, enabling users to find content across Netflix, Hulu Plus, Comcast Xfinity on Demand ,HBO Go, Zune, and other programs on Xbox Live. This was part of the company's "future of TV" announcement. Is Bing the future of TV?
And no, we're not talking about product placement in television shows, of which there is plenty.
I've long held the belief that Xbox would be Microsoft's greatest weapon for increasing its share of the search market. Xbox is huge, and Microsoft could reach people in a place where Google has so far struggled: the living room. While Google tries to figure out Google TV, Microsoft already has a hugely successful set-top box, if you will.
Speaking of Bing Voice Search on Xbox, Microsoft announced it's expanding this feature into 12 additional markets (that's added brand exposure for Bing if nothing else): Australia, Austria, Brazil, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain and Switzerland.
"Soon users in 15 countries speaking 7 languages will be able to get full voice search support," Bing said in a blog post. "In addition, in some countries and languages, you will be able to search for content genres such as comedy, drama and action, and also will be able to use your voice to search user generated content on YouTube."
Microsoft isn't playing Bing up too much in the IE news, but as you can see in the image above, it appeared in the demo. You can watch the whole event here, courtesy of Gamespot:
How much do people want to search the web on a gaming console though? Well, perhaps more than before. As previously reported, IE on Xbox will support Kinect and SmartGlass, so users don't have to use a game controller to operate it.
If Microsoft can gain more momentum in the smartphone and tablet markets, there's no reason that Bing can't make a bigger dent in Google's share of the search market. Of course, that won't do much to help Microsoft's case for Google's so-called "anti-competitive" business practices.
Some might consider Microsoft to have the competitive edge when it comes to social search, for that matter, given that Bing is now tightly integrated with Facebook. The new, more social Bing is available to everyone in the U.S. as of last week. If people find value in their social connections for search, they're most likely going to get more out of Bing than Google in that regard, as Google doesn't have the kind of Facebook (or Twitter) data Bing does, relying more on Google+ and other public data.
“With sidebar, Bing brings together the best of the web, with what experts and your friends know, giving you the confidence to act,” said Bing VP Derrick Connell, when unveiling the new Bing. "This new way to search lets you share, discover, and interact with friends like you do in real life. If you’re on the go, you’ll notice we’ve optimized the layout and placement of the social results on the mobile device for smaller screen sizes and for touch input, so the user experience will be different than what people see on a PC.”
The big screen will add a new element to the equation. As Microsoft continues to experiment with the cross-section of search and social media , using its So.cl social network as a testing ground, perhaps they'll be able to find better ways to tap into that in the living room. So.cl already has a video chat Hangout-like feature.
“You may not always see friends you expect to show up for a number of reasons,” Connell notes of Bing's social features. “Bing uses public Facebook information and content you’ve given Bing permission to use, such as friends’ photos on Facebook. We won’t match friends based on other Facebook content such as status updates or check-ins. Bing also respects you and your friends’ privacy settings so you won’t see friends who have opted out of Facebook instant personalization or blocked the Bing app.”
Assuming that Microsoft has learned its lesson from its own antitrust regulation of the past, we can probably expect an option for users to switch their default search engine when IE hits Xbox. The question is, how many will bother to do so. It at least gives Microsoft the opportunity to get users to try Bing (and ultimately serve them ads).
Do you have an Xbox 360? Will you be searching with Bing? Let us know.