Microsoft announced today at the Web 2.0 Summit that it would integrate Twitter and Facebook streams into its online search engine, Bing.
So what does this mean to you the average interweb surfer? Well, it’s bringing closer to realization the idea of a “real-time web”. When you search for things now, you will find content that could be days, months, or years old. However, in a real-time web scenario your searches could yield results with up-to-the minute accuracy. Expos with revealing keynotes, product unveilings, and travel information all can benefit from minute-by-minute updates like tweets and Facebook status updates. The Facebook integration is still a work in progress, but twitter results are live as of today.
By the way, did I mention Google also signed the exact same deal with Twitter today? They will be working tweet results into their regular search results over the next few months. They haven’t given any indication that they are working on a deal with Facebook.
It is worth nothing that Facebook and Google do not get along very well. Therefore, hanging on to Facebook exclusively might be Microsoft’s ace-in-the-hole by providing results you can’t get anywhere else, inevitably driving up its market share.
Microsoft still has a long ways to go before it catches up with Google in the search market, but the company's Bing search service shows tremendous promise as the fastest-growing U.S. search engine among the top 10, according to data from Nielsen.
In the month of August, Bing scoured the web 1.1 billion times, a jump of 22.1 percent over July. That was enough to give the search service a 10.7 percent share of the search engine market, edging ever closer to Yahoo, which dropped down 4.2 percent and now holds a 16 percent stake.
For the time being, Google enjoys a comfortable lead with a 64.6 percent share and 7 billion searches in August, but it has to be concerned with Bing's rapid upward climb. Moreover, a recent study indicates that users prefer the design and feature-set of Bing over Google, which should give the No. 1 search company cause for concern.
Just recently Microsoft enabled their flagship search engine Bing with a new feature – visual search. The new Silverlight-enabled feature will allow users to browse through one of 50 specific search results (it will be expanded in the future) by means of pictures that rearrange themselves according to your query.
Searches such as “U.S. Politicians,” “NFL Teams,” and “New cars” are already on the visual search site. And, as you refine your query from one of the visual searches available, thumbnails that don’t match yours will fly off the screen, and the rest will reshuffle to fill in the blank spaces.
If you want to give it a try, be sure to install Silverlight and direct your browser here.
Food and beverage manufacturers have for long employed blind taste tests as a marketing gimmick. A Microsoft employee, Michael Kordahi, appears to have taken a leaf out of their marketing handbook. He has developed a website called Blind Search that lets the user query three different search engines simultaneously.
It presents the search results from the three search engines in as many unmarked columns. The user has to vote for the search engine that “best matches your search query.” The choice is between Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Google is the most popular browser with 41% votes, according to the data Kordahi has compiled hitherto. Bing is currently placed second with 31%, with Yahoo enduring the ignominy of the last spot with 28%. Given that Microsoft and Yahoo have inked a search engine partnership, it is interesting to note that the majority of the visitors actually dislike Google. Kordahi asserts that Blind Search is his personal initiative, independent from Microsoft’s influence.
Two weeks ago to the day, Microsoft kicked off a contest inviting participants to sing a jingle about Bing with the stipulation that videos could be no longer than 5 minutes long. It did not stipulate that videos couldn't suck, which doesn't matter anyway, unless the winning entry truly was the best submission Microsoft received.
Jonathan Mann, known on YouTube as "The Rock Cookie Bottom," will receive $500 for winning the Bing Jingle contest, and everyone who watches it gets to die a little inside.
"His concept from the beginning was to have fun and make it a bit silly," Microsoft wrote on its Bing Community blog. "He thought the idea of searching for "Learn how to dance like Jonathan" while dancing in the foreground would be pretty hilarious. And lucky for us it was both catchy and funny! Jonathan's Bing jingle was his 202nd song."
View the winning submission here, and if you like it, we suggest also watching this and this.
Yahoo is expected to announce a deal this week that would make Microsoft's Bing its search provider, says Advertising Age (AdAge.com). If true, the deal would put Bing on more solid footing to compete with Google and rake in some additional ad revenue.
Earlier reports suggested that talks between Yahoo and Microsoft broke down after Yahoo asked for upwards of several hundred million dollars to make Bing its search provider, along with revenue guarantees that would have guaranteed billions over the course of the deal. But according to AdAge.com, talks resumed last Thursday and the two continue to hash out a deal that will be based on a revenue share rather than a lump sum payment.
Both sides stand to benefit from the potential agreement. While the upside for Microsoft is obvious, Tim Cadogan, CEO of ad-serving firm OpenX and former senior-VP of global advertising for Yahoo pointed out, "As Bing grows, the first place Bing takes share from is not Google but the other guys. So Yahoo is going to lose share unless they have something radical planned."
With social networking websites almost holding internet users captive for long periods of time, the new Yahoo homepage will let users have one eye on the latest from their friends on social networks such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Other notable additions include the ability to customize the homepage using widgets and the introduction of a top ten search list just under the search bar.
But the launch has been far from smooth, as some users still haven’t encountered the option to try the new beta homepage. Yahoo is under considerable pressure from Microsoft’s latest search offering Bing, which is increasingly closing in on Yahoo in the online search market.
While maybe not the most creative of names, BingTweets are just what they sound like - a combination of Microsoft's Bing search engine and Twitter messages coming together in a new site.
"Many people share their thoughts on Twitter, and search engines don’t currently do a great job of capturing that real-time content. We designed Bing to help you make faster, more informed decisions, and, since people often turn to real-time content to help them make decisions, BingTweets was a logical next step," Microsoft wrote on Bing's community blog.
To give an example, Microsoft said that as Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince opens, surfers can scan the official reviews, local theater listing, and get the scoop from the latest Tweets related to the movie, all in one fell swoop.
In its early form, the BingTweet website shows a list of popular terms at the top of the page grouped into different categories, and a search box sits to the right. Once you search for a term, the results are listed in typical Bing fashion taking up the majority of the page, with a column on the left slowly scrolling through related Twitter messages.
Give it a try right here, then hit the jump and tell us what you think.
Microsoft has pinned all its hopes on Bing. Its latest take on internet search has got off to a reasonable start. Bing managed to workup a bit of hype and so far hasn’t really disappointed in terms of performance. Now, the numbers are pouring in and they are also more than passable. Stats from Compete.com for the month of June – Bing’s inaugural month – show that it wasted no time in becoming the 13th most visited website in the U.S with 49.57 million visitors. It also happened to breeze past behemoths like Digg, Twitter and CNN. However, the summit still isn't in sight.
Still trying to decide whether to make the switch to Microsoft's Bing search engine or roll reliable with Google? Don't wrack your brain, not when you can use both!
We're not talking about doubling your search efforts with two separate browser windows or tabs. Instead, give bing-vs-google.com a try. This ingenious site made by Domagoj Pavlesic combines the search results of both Bing and Google and displays them in your browser side-by-side. A handful of links at the top lets you choose between splitting things up horizontally or vertically, or display just the Bing or Google search results.
Not much else to say, other than it works and it's pretty friggin' cool.