Bing Brings Twitter Into the Mix
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Microsoft is moving rapidly to build on the early good buzz its Bing search engine's received since its launch last month.
Today the company announced its "initial foray into integrating more real time data" into search results. Several other search startups and established players already offer real-time search of Twitter and other social media. Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is reportedly working on a project to index and search Twitter.
In the case of Microsoft, it's starting with what might be viewed as skimming the cream off Twitter's better-known users. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) said it will focus initially on more "prominent and prolific Twitterers" from different areas ranging from business and technology to entertainment.
A Microsoft blog post on the announcement mentioned search expert Danny Sullivan and tech columnist Kara Swisher as among those it would add to the search. Former Vice President Al Gore and American Idol's Ryan Seacrest also made the cut.
But this integration of Twitter results might be considered pretty light. For example, Microsoft said Bing users would see Twitter results based on a specific search for that person and Twitter, e.g. "Ryan Seacrest Twitter" or Ryan Seacrest tweets" as opposed to say a search for "American Idol."
Of course, you could also go directly to Twitter to find out what Seacrest, Sullivan, et. al. are tweeting. Microsoft said it's picked a few thousand people to start with, based primarily on the number of followers they have and number of tweets.
Driving the next generation of search
Gerry Campbell, who heads the recently launched real-time search engine Collecta, said what Bing is doing is "a good start, but I think what's driving the next generation of search is not yet captured in their approach. It's similar to including blogs and people with influence," Campbell told InternetNews.com.
Collecta provides real-time results from Twitter and a range of social networks. By only focusing on heavy volume and prominent Twitterers, Campbell says Bing is missing "the timeliness and richness of what's happening in the real-time Web."
Microsoft is in third place, with less than ten percent market share in search compared to runaway leader Google and Yahoo in second place at around 20 percent, according to industry estimates.
During a recent appearance at Stanford, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the software giant is more like a feisty startup when it comes to search.
"But there are things we can do because we're not the market leader, like experiment with new business models like cash back. And we're not locked in to the current user interface. We have the luxury and flexibility to try new things."
Ballmer's remarks came a few weeks before the launch of Bing with its daily-changing, colorful home page.