Summary: Microsoft’s renamed engine drops to oblivion shortly after its launch
ACCORDING to this new report, Microsoft’s biased and potentially law-breaking search/decisions engine [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] is reaching the end of the road quite so soon, despite approximately $100 million in marketing.
To Microsoft, the online business is crucial for survival as debt comes knocking on the door. Here is the latest Mirosoft investor who seemingly loses hopes:
We’ve owned shares of Microsoft (MSFT) for almost seven years — with nothing to show for it. I’ve been wrong on the stock, and something is wrong at the company. What is it?
It appears to me, however, that the wide variety of options presented by the internet makes it a much harder beast to control through monopolistic practices. Switching from one website to another is effortless. Most publishing now happens online, so proprietary formatting is gone. As a writer, I used to have to worry constantly about whether the format of my documents would carry over to the recipient. Not anymore. Almost everything is plain text anyway, or rich text, and both of those work anywhere. Blink! Just like that, compatibility with Word disappeared as a reason to keep paying money to Microsoft.
Exhibit one is the new Microsoft Bing. Have you seen it yet? It’s the company’s latest attempt to gain market share in internet search, where it just can’t get any traction. Its inability to make headway in online search shows that it’s stuck with the desktop, the very real estate that’s declining in relative value because people spend less time there than before. Nobody is going to stop Googling stuff in favor of Binging it.
It’s so lopsided online that Yahoo (YHOO) isn’t interested in doing any kind of deal with Microsoft. Remember a little over a year ago when Microsoft tried to buy Yahoo, and Yahoo snubbed it? That’s still going on. Yahoo feels more confident in its battle against Google (GOOG) without Microsoft on its side. Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz said last week at Bank of America’s 2009 Merrill Lynch tech conference, “I personally think we would be better off if we never heard the word Microsoft.” That’s a pretty clear repudiation.
Bing is a convenient case-in-point for what ails Microsoft. It calls itself a “decision engine,” which is already lame. When I search online, I’m no more making decisions than when I drive my car and “decide” at an intersection whether to turn or keep going straight. Sure, life is a series of decisions, but what I’m doing online with search is searching. I may be finding information to help me make a decision, but the main thing I’m doing is searching. So, already, the attempt to differentiate falls flat.
Beyond that, Bing is no better at helping me make decisions than the search results at Google and Yahoo. Besides, its real game becomes clear with its focus on buying things and enticing me with its garish cashback feature. That part is inelegant and transparently against my interests. Cashback pops up from the most expensive options, and tempts me to get a 5% rebate by paying 25% more on the price. This is straight from the playbook of discredit cards and the worst retail practices. Once I wised up to cash-back being a con from Redmond, the entire set of search results from Bing became suspect. If it’s skewing the shopping results toward expensive items so it has a profit margin that enables it to give me 5% back and still retain a slice for itself, why wouldn’t it skew search results in some way?
Disclosure: Author owns MSFT shares.
“I’m going to f—ing bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I’m going to f—ing kill Google.”
–Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO