Bing! There's Your Wake-Up Call, Google

Earlier this week, The New York Post reported that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) co-founder Sergey Brin was so scared of what Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) had created in Bing that he had personally created a skunkworks team to beat it.

Google's response? "We always have a team working on improving search. Our algorithm is constantly evolving," a spokesperson told the paper.

So Google isn't specifically worried about Bing. Shocking. Bing may be a strong search engine, but like Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) , it badly trails the Big G in both market share and brand perception.

There are varying theories about why this so-called story broke, and why now. Some speculators say that Google placed the story as a PR stunt, a tactic designed to divert the eyes of federal regulators who have had their eyes on Google's vast and growing search market share.

I've been in the PR business, and a stunt of this sort wouldn't be unprecedented. But is speculating about it helpful? I can't see how. Let's talk about what we know: Bing isn't the only so-called "decision engine" available, and every one of them is a threat to Google.

Microsoft gets credit for coining the term "decision engine" with Bing, which it says relates to how its system helps users make better decisions, faster. The trick, as Mr. Softy describes it, is to not only retrieve good results but also present and organize them in a way that's actionable, in a way that answers direct questions.

Bing doesn't do this perfectly, of course. Neither does Google. For both companies and their search services, "decision engine" is more marketing-speak than product description.

But applied more broadly, the phrase "decision engine" accurately describes the movement toward richer indexes such as Wolfram|Alpha and IBM's (NYSE: IBM  ) Watson, a computer-database combination that will soon make its JEOPARDY! debut. There's also Hunch.com, a new style of search engine that gets to know you before it presents you with results.

And this isn't a comprehensive list; more "decision engines" are coming. Brin may not be worried now, but he should be.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Google and a stock position in IBM at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy likes coffee with its wake-up call.


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  • Report this Comment On June 17, 2009, at 3:02 PM, rivescpa wrote:

    I used Bing for a week and can honestly say "who cares?". Google gave me a reason to change from Yahoo some many years ago, after a week it was obvious Bing was not going to do the same, so I am back to using the G to search.

  • Report this Comment On June 17, 2009, at 3:16 PM, ByrneShill wrote:

    Bing is a superior product to google search. The way the information is presented is better. I'm not sure how to explain it, but using it is easyer, more natural. Plus there are the pretty backgrounds :)

    Not sure how much this will help MS steal market shares, cause honestly the perception of reality is 100X more important than how good the product is when we're talking about search engines.

  • Report this Comment On June 17, 2009, at 3:23 PM, TMFDanDzombak wrote:

    Has anyone tried Hunch.com? I haven't had a chance to check it out yet.

  • Report this Comment On June 18, 2009, at 2:18 PM, jpanspac wrote:

    I tried Hunch yesterday. It might evolve into something useful, but right now it's very rigid and simplistic.

  • Report this Comment On June 18, 2009, at 7:41 PM, masterN17 wrote:

    I am using Bing more often for pure search, but Google has already sucked me into their web of online apps so I doubt I will ever break free of the big bad G.

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