No company has ever dominated one industry at the global level as Google has dominated Internet Search. It is not wrong to say that there are two types of people on this earth – those who use Google and those who do not use the internet.
Recently, Microsoft has unveiled a new search engine Bing, which will eventually replace the MSN live search. Bing, Microsoft’s attempt to break Google monopoly in internet search, has a refreshingly cool and colourful webpage. Publicized as a “Decision Engine” rather than a “Search Engine”, Bing helps people make better decisions regarding shopping, travel, restaurant, health, etc. Not surprising, this is from where most of the advertising money comes from.
One useful feature in Bing is that all recent searches are given on the left hand side of the page. Another cool feature is “preview”. You can move over the mouse on a dot near the search result to get a preview of the result. For videos, they start playing when you move the mouse over the search results. Image search is similar to MSN Live, where you have to just keep scrolling down to see more and more images. Advanced Search is almost similar to Google. One advanced search feature, which I was not able to locate on Google was search based on Country/Region.
The most amazing feature is the Local search for USA. You get a lot of options to narrow down your search results – for example, while searching for restaurants in New York you can filter the search results by parameters like parking (free parking on site, paid parking available, street parking, valet parking, etc.), payment mode (Diners, MasterCard, Visa), budget, Cuisine, tc. A pop-up map gives the location of each result. But, will they be able to scale it successfully to other locations (say Indore, India).
I don’t know why this happens, but if you search for any “sexually explicit” content, whether or not the results will be displayed will depend on your location (the default location for me is India). So, for such searches, there are no results for India and Arab Countries, whereas the search works fine for USA and UK.
All said and done, Bing is still in beta stage, it looks promising, but it still is a few step behind Google and in terms of search, it does not offer any thing markedly better from Google. Initially, many features are disabled for non-US users (like in News section, you cannot view Top Stories for India). I am also curious to know how the USD 100 million, which Microsoft plans to spend on the advertising of Bing, will help it in giving a tough challenge to Google. It may help in attracting attention and drive in traffic purely on the basis of curiosity, but loyal followers and market share will happen only if the engine does its core job (of giving good and relevant search results) better than Google.
And I sincerely hope it is not another Cuil in the making!!