Don't count on it. Seth Jayson has posed the question before -- can Microsoft kill Google? he wondered -- and it seems that for now, many of us would answer with a resounding "no."
Sure, Microsoft's deep pockets enable it to launch a huge advertising campaign that may boost awareness of the new and improved search engine on its MSN.com site.
However, I visited MSN's new and improved site, which still remains hub-like. That rather fussy if content-rich format holds less resemblance to Google than it does its other search-hungry brethren, Yahoo!
I tried out MSN's product in a search -- for articles about yesterday's word that Apple
And, of course, I then went to Google's simple interface, typed in the same query ("brand apple google"), and received an array of quality results, as well as, of course, results from Google Desktop and from Google News. That's just one sample search, but you get my drift.
Anyway, there was method to my madness in looking for the news about the brands. Microsoft may have a strong brand, but Google's has been a powerful one for the last couple of years. And what's more, although Google has been playing around with some new areas, it doesn't really diverge from its main focus: search and organization of information. So really, for most people, that strong brand simply defines search. Does any more need to be said?
Therefore, I'm thinking that Microsoft can advertise the heck out of its new search engine, and I'm just not convinced that that will make much of a difference, even if they're advertising on the Super Bowl, skywriting "Search MSN" on blue horizons across the globe, or showing the cast of Desperate Housewives utilizing the product on ABC's popular new show.
The area bodes watching, of course, but it's one arena where, despite Microsoft's deep pocketbooks, it's hard to argue that it's better late than never.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.