RealTime IT News

Microsoft is 'Bing' for a Day

Microsoft's new search engine Bing is apparently off to a good start, even surging slightly ahead of Yahoo, if only for a day.

Instead of being a groundswell for Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), though, analysts said that the spike may only indicate consumers' trying out the newest search engine on the block.

For whatever reason, on Thursday at least, Bing was the second-place search engine worldwide, according to net metrics tracking firm StatCounter, which claims to monitor "in excess of ten billion page loads per month [globally]."

StatCounter's report says that on Thursday, Bing garnered second place status with 16.28 percent of searches in the US. That put it ahead of Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO), which had 10.22 percent of searches for that day. Of course, both still ran well behind Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) which had 71.47 percent.

Additionally, the horse race between the two firms for second place looks a lot closer on a global basis. While Google is even further out front with a whopping 87.62 percent, worldwide, Bing had a 5.62 percent market share and Yahoo held 5.13.

Microsoft launched its new Bing search engine in late May and the site officially went live worldwide on Wednesday. Despite a few glitches, Bing was in full swing by Thursday.

Still even the tracking firm acknowledges that it's too early to predict whether Microsoft will ultimately take second-place on a longer-term basis.

"It remains to be seen if Bing falls away after the initial novelty and promotion but at first sight it looks like Microsoft is on to a winner," Aodhan Cullen, CEO of StatCounter, said in a statement Friday.

Microsoft has said it will spend as much as $100 million to advertise Bing, and analysts expect that putting Microsoft's marketing muscle behind it may help it overtake Yahoo.

"The initial jump may just be [users] tire kicking, but even that is a good sign for Microsoft. At least people are open minded about trying it," Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies, told InternetNews.com in an e-mail.

"In theory, the friction holding any given user to a search engine is low. I may have all three search boxes visible so I could type into any one," Kay added.

Indeed, Kay isn't unusual in using more than one search engine.

"Around one-third of all searchers and 72 percent of heavy searchers … use three or more search engines per month," a spokesperson for tracking firm Nielsen Online said in a statement e-mailed to InternetNews.com. "These heavy searchers are the ones that Microsoft will want to attract with its new search engine, Bing, since they drive the majority of search activity on the Web."

Matt Rosoff, vice president for consumer products and corporate news at Directions on Microsoft, says the company is doing a lot of things right this time.

"[Bing] benefits from a clear brand and URL, coherent marketing strategy, and significant advertising budget, unlike Microsoft's previous search efforts. I would not be surprised to see it take market share quickly -- switching costs for search users are very low," Rosoff said in an e-mail to InternetNews.com.

"All that said, I would take StatCounter's numbers with many grains of salt," he added. "I'd wait for the next monthly report from companies who track search engine market share, like ComScore and Nielsen, before making any sort of judgment.