If you ever wondered what planet Steve Ballmer (CEO of Microsoft) was on, he may have given a small insight. "...we Bing we Bing we Bing we Bing Bing Bing all the time, at least in my world " at the CES this week. I wonder, has Steve Ballmer "Bing" taking medication?😉

Bing (dictionary definition – a heap, a pile) is allegedly not doing as well as Microsoft would want you believe.  We see Microsoft on a regular basis claiming to be the innovator of products people want to use (IMO), but when you actually look in further detail, the story, in my opinion is very different.

I gave my views on Bing quite a while ago on this blog.  Despite what people may like you to believe about this blog I was hardly critical of the product, noting that the main problem Bing had was getting past the household name of Google which has almost become part of our vocabulary.

When talking about Linux market share, many Microsoft advocates have claimed the traditional 1%, for many years. Despite what the figure actually is, I think we can all agree that now more than ever people are talking about and using alternatives to Microsoft products and if, the 1% figure was correct a few years ago, IMO its certainly not correct now.

Anyway, this article is about Bing, but the point is, if, as the Microsoft advocates claim, a low market share is indicative of a poor product, then Bing is doomed (IMO).  Why? Im about to make that point.

Netapps have released figures on market share of search engines, which they released in December 2009.  In my opinion the figures do not make good reading for Microsoft.  I’ve read allegations that Netapps favors Microsoft and if that is true then Bing really does have problems.

The figures have Google  at 85.34% and Bing at 3.27% – not, in my opinion the success story that Ive read from Microsoft sources regarding Bing.  The report can be found here.

At the CES this week, Steve Ballmer has this to say about Bing:

More than ever we are delivering the experiences that people want…..

Well if Netapps are accurate, then its at best what 3% of people want. If people were waiting for some of his trademark behavior on stage at the CES this week, then he didn’t disappoint since its reported that he went on to say:

And of course we Bing we Bing we Bing we Bing Bing Bing all the time, at least in my world

Yes Stevie, of course you do.  I don’t think I want to be visiting that world anytime soon.

We only have to cast our minds back a short while to earlier in 2009 when allegations were abound that IE6 was changing the default search engine to Bing without the users consent.  You can read an article about that here and here. What was interesting at the time were some of the comments by users (which can be found on the linked articles):

Well for me it was when I upgraded to IE 8. It keeps defaulting back to the bing home page even after I change it to google. It changes back when I reboot. So there is someting else going on here!

and also

I’m using IE7 and it’s doing the same thing, I even chose an option in Google to not allow other search engines to change my default and to notify me when it happens. Bing is still taking over and putting itself as my default search engine.  I don’t think it’s a \bug\ at all, I’m so angry!

But regardless of which IE version was experiencing it and how, Microsoft released this:

We’re aware of the issue with IE6 and Bing and are investigating a solution. This issue is not impacting IE7 or IE8 users. We respect user choice on search providers in IE and all browsers, and designed IE to enable that choice. We will provide an update soon on this issue, and we apologize for any inconvenience it has caused. In the meantime, we encourage customers to upgrade to IE8 here. Alternatively, Firefox users can install the add-in for Bing here.

Right, so it was a bug? In my opinion a rather convenient one.  Putting that aside though, take a look at the press release.  Microsoft are acknowledging the issue (that being IE switching to Bing), they apologize for “inconvenience” and then they give a link to not only IE8 (which if you remember Microsoft offered to donate food to the hungry in order for you to download it) and a link to a Firefox plug in for Bing.

Maybe Ive missed something?  If people were inconvienienced by Bing, why on earth would they offer a plug in for it for Firefox? “We’re sorry about Bing, nevermind heres a plug-in for Firefox“?😉

Moving to the middle of 2009, there are again, allegations abound.  This time about Bing censorship:

Bings Blatant Censorship in Germany

Is Bing Censoring Questions about Microsoft?

Claims that Bing Censored Chinese Results

Bing and Yahoo Censor Indian Search Results – Disgrace

Theres many more articles on the subject.  When all this is looked at together it maybe explains why Bing is only on 3% of share, although if you consider the “extra hits” Bing would have received from the “unfortunate bug” and consider that people would probably have tried Bing out of curiosity, it makes the 3% figure it has now even more dire (IMO)

So whats users verdict on Bing?

Here are a few taken from http://www.fluther.com/disc/46570/what-is-your-opinion-of-bingcom/

I gave it a try but I would not use it.

So I take it they were not impressed?  How about this user?:

I checked it out. It doesn’t look like there’s anything special about it.

Next chap (presumably a Google user) had this to say:

It brings nothing new to the table, besides the interface, which isnt to appealing I might add. Why use it when Google WILL satisfy your every desire.

and the comments go on:

I’ve been trying out bing today; not very impressed.

and

Don’t like it that much. I get way better results with Google.

I’ll stop there, you get the general idea.  Of course we also had the issues with bugs on the Bing Iphone app and I wrote about those here.

Conclusions

So now I hope you see the point of this article and in my opinion a typical example of Microsoft’s PR v Real life.  The story (IMO) is somewhat different to Steve Ballmer’s comment of “delivering the experiences that people want” unless what they wanted was censorship and their default search engine changed.

I will leave you with these questions, is Bing another example of Microsoft trying to be jack of all trades in area’s where others have the upper hand? Is Microsoft fighting a war it can’t win on too many fronts?

I’ll leave you to decide.

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com