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Monday, 25 May 2009 19:32

Microsoft to launch last ditch search effort

The blogosphere is teeming with reports and rumours about the imminent release of a new Microsoft search engine possibly as early as next week. We caught a glimpse of it a couple of months ago when Microsoft leaked some screen shots of its Kumo project.

From what we were led to believe, Kumo was all about organising search results in a better way than Google does and clustering results under headings or categories (in much the same way that a search engine called Clusty does).

There were also rumours that Kumo had semantic search capabilities that could for example enable users to search on related images and so on.

Now there are rumours that the new search engine has been given the unlikely name of Bing (then again who would have thought of naming a search engine Google).

Whatever turns out to be true, one thing is clear. Microsoft has a monumental task ahead of it if it hopes to put even a small dent in Google's armour in the search space.

Google has somewhere between 60-65% share of the global search space, while Yahoo has a shrinking 20% and Microsoft has a shrinking even faster less than 10%.

While Google's dominance in search is still not as great as Microsoft's in the desktop operating system space, its star is on the rise while Microsoft's is at best moving side ways.


Naturally Microsoft is a massively well resourced company - financially better resourced than Google. However, no amount of money can help it take down Google.

If you need an analogy, think about how the vastly better resourced IBM tried to take down the relative upstart Microsoft between the mid-1980s up until the launch of Windows 95 when the Big Blue finally realised it had lost the battle and gave up.

The fact was that Microsoft understood the desktop market much better than IBM and the big vertically integrated hardware and software company was powerless.

Now Microsoft is in a similar situation to the 1980s IBM. It understands how to make money from the desktop but it doesn't have a clue how to make money in the online space.

Google has all the best talent aroundr the world working on its search related products. Microsoft has a division in Redmond and some new recruits from Yahoo.

All that said, it will be interesting to see what Microsoft does come out with. Some reports say that it intends to spend as much as US$100 million on marketing its new search product.

That sounds a lot but in equivalent value to the sustained constant viral marketing that Google gets every minute of every day on the web for free, $100 million of air time is a mere drop in the ocean.

Microsoft can attempt to be a sumo with Kumo, have a fling with Bing, but in search Google will remain king. Ouch - sorry about that, it's late at night here.

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Stan Beer


Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.



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