Search engines have thrived over the years as middlemen. Users hit up Google
In short, while most of the Web aspires to beef up its stickiness, search engines aim to be un-sticky.
Well, that may be about to change.
Microsoft rolled out some beefed-up entertainment options on Bing yesterday. Music fans can now find lyrics and even stream songs without leaving the site. Gamers can now play leading online casual games and read walkthroughs without having to leave Bing. Care to stream a television show? Need movie times? Bing wants to be your one-stop hub for entertainment.
Microsoft isn't necessarily planting the flag in some of these areas. Yahoo! has been cranking out lyrics for three years. Google began streaming music through its site last year -- a move that took an interesting turn when Apple
However, Bing is trying to bring it all together in a bold initiative that will make it more of a portal than a search engine.
As long as Bing doesn't lose its edge and brand appeal as a search engine, this should all be incremental. However, if Microsoft is gaining these page views, who's losing them?
Glad you asked.
I'm not overly concerned about the music streams eating at rival services. Entire songs can be played only once. Listeners are then prompted to buy the tracks through Microsoft's own Zune or third-party sites including Apple's iTunes and Amazon.com's
However, things will get interesting on the game front. If Microsoft offers 100 of the most popular online diversions, won't Electronic Arts'
If Microsoft is growing its audience -- or, at the very least, keeping its audience longer -- it will come at the expense of existing sites that are doing the same thing.
The entertainment business just got a little more entertaining.
Can Bing become an entertainment powerhouse? Let us know in the comments box below.
Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Apple, Amazon.com, and Electronic Arts are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wonders whether we'll even be using search engines 10 years from now. He owns no shares in any of the stocks in this story and is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.